Volume 41 - Article 14 | Pages 393–424

The role of conflict and organized violence in international forced migration

By Alessandra Conte, Silvia Migali

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Date received:23 Aug 2018
Date published:30 Jul 2019
Word count:6383
Keywords:conflict, international migration
Updated Items:On August 2, 2019, several changes in phrasing were made throughout the text at the authors’ request.
Additional files:Dataset_Table1 (dta file, 4 MB)
 Replication_Table1 (do file, 2 kB)
 Results_Replication Table 1 (Word file, 54 kB)


Background: The growing relevance of migration in the policy agenda of both host and sending countries asks for a better understanding of factors shaping migration processes. This paper analyzes recent trends of increasing asylum applications and refugee stocks and examines the influence of conflicts, as well as political and economic factors, as primary push and pull factors.

Objective: The main aim is to empirically investigate the relationship that armed conflicts have with first-time asylum applications and refugee stocks in and outside Europe.

Methods: We explore different measures that capture the severity and geographical spread of armed conflicts and link them to the dependent variables by fitting a gravity model.

Results: The intensity of the conflict and where the fighting is taking place explain an essential portion of the variation in flows of asylum applications and stocks of refugees. Results suggest that people flee terror and war but also violence and insecurity emerging from non-conflict-affected areas and perpetrated by different criminal actors. Results also show that economic conditions, the presence of previous migrant communities in the destination country, distance, and presence of a common language between the origin and destination countries are relevant drivers of new asylum applications. Higher rates of asylum recognition by host countries act as an important pull factor, positively correlated with receiving additional new asylum claims.

Contribution: This paper contributes to the empirical literature on the determinants of international forced migration by empirically examining the latest bilateral migration data and the associations with armed conflict and growing forms of organized violence in the origin countries.

Author's Affiliation

Alessandra Conte - Joint Research Centre (JRC), Belgium [Email]
Silvia Migali - Joint Research Centre (JRC), Belgium [Email]

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