TITLE: Selective Migration and the Macro Demographic Consequences of Armed Conflict PROJECT SUMMARY: This project will investigate the impacts of armed conflict on macro-level population composition, well-being, and stability. Although the actions of macro-level actors in conflict processes, such as governments and non- governmental violent groups, have been examined in the literature, there is little research on the role of the general population and how their behavioral changes during armed conflict affect the long-term well-being and stability of post-conflict societies and contribute to the perpetuation of armed conflict. This gap is largely a result of a lack of appropriate data and clear methodological strategies for the investigation of the micro- and macro-level dynamics of populations exposed to abrupt and dramatic macro-level disasters. The broad aim of this project is to contribute to the general development of theoretical and methodological tools that can be used to investigate the impact of disasters in general on macro-level population composition and well-being. Empirical analysis will focus on armed conflict as one type of disaster that can have immediate and long-term effects on populations. The overarching research questions for this project are: what are the immediate effects of conflict on population composition and dynamics, under what conditions do they persist after conflict ends, and how do the initial conditions of a population moderate these changes? This project will be a detailed case study of these questions in the context of the recent decade-long armed conflict between the Government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Specifically, this project will address three research questions: (1) how does conflict-related migration affect short and long-term changes in macro-level population composition and dynamics, including rates of migration, marriage, fertility, urbanization, and population growth;(2) how does conflict-related migration affect household composition, well-being and inequality between households in the short- and long-term post-conflict periods;and (3) how does conflict-related migration affect village level population composition and spatial segregation by caste in the short- and long-term post-conflict periods. These questions will be examined using agent-based models and existing data from a longitudinal study in Nepal. As an emerging analytical technique, agent-based models hold immense promise for research investigating the linkages between micro-level behaviors and macro-level outcomes and simulating different disaster scenarios over long periods of time. To my knowledge, they have not yet been used in disaster research. Results from this study will have implications for understanding key macro-level population trends and the well-being of individuals, households, and communities in post-conflict Nepal. The theoretical contributions and modeling tools that are developed for this project will also be applicable to the future study of other conflicts, natural disasters, economic crises or other events of rapid and dramatic social change. This project will draw on my previous research on migration and other demographic behaviors in response to the armed conflict in Nepal and the individual characteristics that moderate the conflict-migration relationship. My current postdoctoral work with an interdisciplinary team using agent-based models to examine the consequences of rapid social and environmental change on population dynamics will also provide experience, tools, and relationships that will help me to complete the proposed project. My primary career goal is to conduct research on the consequences of armed conflict and disasters on population dynamics and human well-being. In this regard, the purpose of this award is to provide me with the opportunity to learn about and become proficient in the use of agent-based models as a technique to link micro-level behaviors to macro-level outcomes in the context of disaster and to learn about the intersections and relevance of my research for other academic disciplines. The Pathway to Independence award will help me to pursue these objectives through providing access to mentorship with leading scientists in several disciplines at the University of North Carolina (UNC), conceptual and methodological training opportunities at UNC and the Santa Fe Institute, and opportunities to present and discuss my research at multidisciplinary conferences with other conflict and disaster scholars. Furthermore, mentorship and participation in a seminar series on project design and grant writing are key components of the training program. I will also initiate an interdisciplinary working group for researchers at UNC who are currently using agent-based models to study the effects of disasters and other macro-level events on population dynamics around the world. This working group will help myself and the other participants to better understand the comparability and generalizability of our geographically specific results on processes of micro- and macro-level change. The goal of these training activities is to help me develop a unique set of skills that I will be able to use as an independent scientist in the future. Specifically I plan to use these skills to develop an R01 project proposal to investigate population dynamics during the on-going religio-ethnic conflict in Kashmir, India.

Public Health Relevance

Disasters, such as armed conflict, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, and economic crises routinely cause dramatic devastation and alter important patterns of demographic behaviors at the micro-level in the short- and long-term. The proposed research will investigate the impact of armed conflict and consequent behavior changes on macro-level population dynamics, including population growth, fertility, marriage, and migration. These important but poorly understood consequences of armed conflict can have significant effects on livelihoods, persistent patterns of poverty, and macro-economic stability;urbanization and public health in urban and rural areas;segregation and the exacerbation of inequality;and can contribute to the perpetuation of armed conflict in the future.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Transition Award (R00)
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Special Emphasis Panel (NSS)
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Clark, Rebecca L
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University of Washington
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Williams, Nathalie E; Ghimire, Dirgha; Snedker, Karen A (2018) Fear of violence during armed conflict: Social roles and responsibilities as determinants of fear. Soc Sci Res 71:145-159
Entwisle, Barbara; Williams, Nathalie E; Verdery, Ashton M et al. (2016) Climate Shocks and Migration: An Agent-Based Modeling Approach. Popul Environ 38:47-71
Williams, Nathalie E (2015) Mixed and Complex Mixed Migration during Armed Conflict: Multidimensional Empirical Evidence from Nepal. Int J Sociol 45:44-63
Williams, Nathalie E; Thomas, Timothy A; Dunbar, Matthew et al. (2015) Measures of Human Mobility Using Mobile Phone Records Enhanced with GIS Data. PLoS One 10:e0133630
Axinn, William G; Ghimire, Dirgha J; Williams, Nathalie E et al. (2015) Associations between the social organization of communities and psychiatric disorders in rural Asia. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 50:1537-45
Dobra, Adrian; Williams, Nathalie E; Eagle, Nathan (2015) Spatiotemporal detection of unusual human population behavior using mobile phone data. PLoS One 10:e0120449
Malanson, George P; Verdery, Ashton M; Walsh, Stephen J et al. (2014) Changing crops in response to climate: virtual Nang Rong, Thailand in an agent based simulation. Appl Geogr 53:202-212
Williams, Nathalie E (2013) How community organizations moderate the effect of armed conflict on migration in Nepal. Popul Stud (Camb) 67:353-69
Axinn, William G; Ghimire, Dirgha J; Williams, Nathalie E et al. (2013) Gender, traumatic events, and mental health disorders in a rural Asian setting. J Health Soc Behav 54:444-61
Walsh, Stephen J; Malanson, George P; Entwisle, Barbara et al. (2013) Design of an Agent-Based Model to Examine Population-Environment Interactions in Nang Rong District, Thailand. Appl Geogr 39: