Geography, Poverty and Conflict in Nepal

26 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2007 Last revised: 14 Aug 2014

See all articles by Quy-Toan Do

Quy-Toan Do

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Lakshmi Iyer

Harvard Business School - Business, Government and the International Economy Unit

Date Written: February 18, 2009

Abstract

This paper conducts an empirical analysis of the geographic, economic and social factors that contributed to the spread of civil war in Nepal over the period 1996-2006. This within-country analysis complements existing cross-country studies on the same subject. Using a detailed dataset to track civil war casualties across space and over time, several patterns are documented. Conflict-related deaths are significantly higher in poorer districts, and in geographical locations that favor insurgents, such as mountains and forests; a 10 percentage point increase in poverty is associated with 25-27 additional conflict-related deaths. This result is similar to that documented in cross-country studies. In addition, the relationship with poverty and geography is similar for deaths caused by the insurgents and deaths caused by the state. Furthermore, poorer districts are likely to be drawn into the insurgency earlier, consistent with the theory that a lower cost of recruiting rebels is an important factor in starting conflict. On the other hand, geographic factors are not significantly associated with such onset, suggesting that they instead contribute to the intensity of violence once conflict has started. Finally, in contrast with some cross-country analyses, ethnic and caste polarization, land inequality, and political participation are not significantly associated with violence.

Keywords: violent conflict, poverty, social polarization

Suggested Citation

Do, Quy Toan and Iyer, Lakshmi, Geography, Poverty and Conflict in Nepal (February 18, 2009). HBS Finance Working Paper No. 07-065. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=979610 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.979610

Quy Toan Do

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Lakshmi Iyer (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Business, Government and the International Economy Unit ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

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