Civil Conflict and Displacement: Village-Level Determinants of Forced Migration in Aceh


The purpose of this paper is to identify the determinants of displacement behavior based on various push and pull factors at the village level. The study concentrates on changes in village population during three years of civil conflict (1999-2002) in Aceh, Indonesia. The empirical analysis is based on a unique data–set from two census rounds of the Indonesian Village Potential Census (PODES). It uses data on around 5200 Acehnese villages and relates village level population change to conflict variables and traditional socio-economic determinants of migration. By applying quantile regressions, the push (outflow) factors and the pull (inflow) determinants of migration can also be distinguished. The study finds that the negative impact of conflict incidence on village population stock is mainly driven by reductions in inflow for slightly affected (inflow) villages, and by an outflow push for severely affected (outflow) villages. After controlling for conflict variables, socio- economic factors remain significant and robust determinants for explaining internal displacements. Villages that are more dependent on agricultural production experience larger population outflows, and smaller population inflows, which reflects a clear rural–urban migration pattern. The presence of small–scale manufacturing industries helps to retain village population. These results emphasize that forced migration cannot be considered as only a result of a unidimensional fear of violence.

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