Why do some people flee civil war and state collapse, while others stay?

Prakash Adhikari has a paper in the AJPS (PDF, gated) that seeks to address this question:

This study investigates circumstances that affect individuals’ decisions of whether or not to flee their homes during civilian conflicts. Building on the “choice-centered” approach to studying forced migration, I test the argument that people make a decision to flee or stay even under highly dangerous circumstances. Using primary data collected through a public opinion survey in Nepal, I test a number of hypotheses regarding the impact of factors such as violence, economic opportunity, physical infrastructure or geographical terrain, and social networks on forced migration, providing an individual-level test of the choice-centered approach to studying forced migration. The empirical results are consistent with the major hypotheses developed in aggregate-level studies and provide better insightsinto the factors that affect individual-level behavior. Beyond conflict, there are a number of significant economic, social, physical, and political factors that affect individuals’ choice to flee.

As expected, the threat of violence and actual experience of violence increases the likelihood that one would flee – by about 8 and 32 percentage points respectively. Economic opportunity, on the other hand, reduces the likelihood of fleeing by 19%. High income individuals are also less likely to flee by about 1-2%. In addition, social ties decrease the likelihood of fleeing, although the effect is not statistically significant in Adhikari’s model.

The paper primarily looks at conflict, but may also apply to cases of overall economic collapse and political turmoil as has plagued Zimbabwe in the last one and a half decades. It is estimated that almost a quarter of Zimbabweans have fled the country. But three quarters remained, through the hyper-inflation and acute restriction of political space and personal freedoms.

In particular, the Zimbabwe case provides a good case for knowing why elites (who presumably can leave if they want) choose to stay in states like Zimbabwe – and thereby continue to provide the means of survival for the regime.

For those who have chosen to stay in Zim it might be that they have a lot to lose by fleeing (they have jobs, own some property, have strong extensive social ties, are too patriotic to leave …..?) or are actually plugged into the patronage system of Robert Mugabe, supported by illicit trade in diamonds, foreign aid, and control of the economy.

H/T Joshua Keating over at War of Ideas

zimbabwean leaders, stop acting childish

Am I the only one tired of the antics of Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai? This struggle over which ministries to give to which party is turning into child play. How hard can it be to agree on which posts to take? This is not rocket science. And what gives these lunatics of leaders the idea that they can continue to mortgage their citizens’ lives as they leisurely engage in inane political fights??

Zimbabweans are hurting – no one needs a reminder about this. And I just read an article about the collapsing school system. This is particularly sad because education holds the key to the future. If Zimbabwean children lag behind they are going to have a hard time catching up and competing in the increasingly globalized labor market – if and when their economy recovers and sanity returns to their country.

Quite frankly, I am simply sick and tired of the circus that is the negotiations. Mugabe and Tsvangirai should be locked in a room without food or bathroom break until they come up with a deal that will work for Zimbabweans and stop the madness that has characterised this once promising African country.

zimbabwe’s kenya-esque election

It all sounds too familiar. Elections are held, but the government fears that the wrong people might be winning. The election officials know the results but are not releasing them for some mysterious reason. All things then break loose, with disastrous consequences.

The credibility of the election process is tarnished and everyone is left guessing who really won the election.

I am not saying that this is how Zimbabwe will pan out but I am worried at how eerily familiar the situation there seems.

Right now, with 52 constituencies counted, the government has half the seats and the opposition the other half. Tsvangirai’s party has 25 and Mutambara’s 1. A couple of Mugabe’s ministers have lost their parliamentary seats. Other results are being delayed for some mysterious reason even as Tsvangirai’s party, the MDC, continues to claim that it has won 60% of the votes cast to Mugabe’s 30%. The MDC also claims that it has won 99 seats in parliament against ZANU-PF’s 96 while 15 went to other opposition groups.

The real results have been delayed by the electoral commission …….. no prizes for guessing why. The weird part about this is that even after uncle Bob showed the world what he is capable of over the last two decades, I was still kind of optimistic that he was going to hold a relatively acceptable election (please prove me right Mugabe, please…)

To future would be African “riggers of elections” : if you have to rig, please be tactful. Do it without delaying results simply because this creates suspicion. Do it without having voter turnout being higher than voter registration. And do it in a way that half the government ministers do not lose their parliamentary seats because if they do and you still win, even the dumbest among us will smell a rat.

zimbabwe opposition a let down

You would imagine that with a president like one Robert Mugabe the Zimabwean opposition would do anything in their capacity to have him out of power. But you would be wrong. This power hungry lot (yes, this is what I think of them) has refused to come up with a coalition against Mugabe. Their leaders, Tsvangirai and Mutambara, have confirmed that talks between their rival MDC factions have “broken down irretrievably” – according to the BBC.

A divided MDC almost certainly guarantees the aging Mugabe a win in the March polls. Meanwhile, ordinary Zimbabweans continue to live their lives under the yoke of the wayward economic practices that the world has come to know the Mugabe administration for. Mugabe’s bad economics has also been served with a touch of human rights abuses and lack of respect for the rule of law. It is really shocking to imagine how he manages to get re-elected.

Tsvangirai and Mutambara owe it to their countrymen and women to form a united front if they really want to unseat Mugabe. They have no business running separate campaigns in March because this will guarantee the presidency to Mugabe. Knowing African leaders (yes, I think after all that has happened on the continent from Senegal to Somalia and Chad to South Africa I can make this generalization, but I digress) I don’t think these two power hungry men will let their egos and quest for personal aggrandizement take the back seat and let the plight of their countrymen and women take the front seat.

Sadly, this is yet another case of African leaders lacking true leadership. It also paints a bad picture of both Tsvangirai and Mutambara and makes one doubt whether these two really want to end the bad governance that we’ve come to associate with Bob or whether they just want to perpetuate the same old practices of rent-seeking, cronyism and over-the-roof inflations rates – but may be with less human rights abuses and the jailing of opposition supporters. Even this is questionable, after seeing what Kenya has turned into following the “bad” years of Moi rule. African leaders just have a way of making you look back and shock yourself by wishing you had the likes of Moi in power.

If Tsvangirai and Mutambara care about their international reputation thy ought to unite. Otherwise many reasonable people will question their vision for Zimbabwe and indeed their commitment to ousting Mugabe and bettering the lives of millions of hungry, sick and illiterate Zimbabweans.