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Growing up in wartime: Evidence from the era of two world wars

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  • Havari, Enkelejda
  • Peracchi, Franco

Abstract

We document the association between war-related shocks in childhood and adult outcomes for Europeans born during the first half of the twentieth century. Using a variety of data, at both the macro- and the micro-level, we address the following questions: What are the patterns of mortality among Europeans born during this period? Do war-related shocks in childhood and adolescence help predict adult health, human capital and wellbeing of the survivors? Are there differences by sex, socio-economic status in childhood, and age when the shocks occurred? At the macro-level, we show that the secular trend towards lower mortality was interrupted by dramatic increases in mortality during World War I, the Spanish Flu, the Spanish Civil War, and World War II, and we quantify the size of these mortality shocks. Different patterns characterize these high-mortality episodes, with substantial variation by country, sex and age group. At the micro-level, we show that war-related hardship in childhood or adolescence, in particular exposure to war events and experience of hunger, is associated with worse physical and mental health, education, cognitive ability and subjective wellbeing at older ages. The strength of the association differs by sex and type of hardship, with war exposure being more important for females and experience of hunger for males. We also show that hardships matter more if experienced in childhood, and have stronger consequences if they last longer.

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  • Havari, Enkelejda & Peracchi, Franco, 2017. "Growing up in wartime: Evidence from the era of two world wars," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 9-32.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:25:y:2017:i:c:p:9-32
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2016.09.002
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    Cited by:

    1. Abeliansky, Ana Lucia & Strulik, Holger, 2018. "Hungry children age faster," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 211-220.
    2. Conzo, Pierluigi & Salustri, Francesco, 2017. "A war is forever: The long-run effects of early exposure to World War II on trust?," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201735, University of Turin.
    3. Vincenzo Atella & Edoardo Di Porto & Joanna Kopinska, 2016. "Heterogenous mechanisms in WWII stress transmission: evidence from a natural experiment," CEIS Research Paper 385, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 01 Aug 2017.
    4. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2016. "“The Last, the Most Dreadful Resource of Nature”: Economic-Historical Reflections on Famine," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 44(2), pages 225-241, June.
    5. Arpino, Bruno & Conzo, Pierluigi & Salustri, Francesco, 2019. "I’m a survivor, keep on surviving: Early-life exposure to conflict and subjective survival probabilities in adult life," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201904, University of Turin.
    6. Jeffrey C. Schiman & Robert Kaestner & Anthony T. Lo Sasso, 2017. "Early Childhood Health Shocks and Adult Wellbeing: Evidence from Wartime Britain," NBER Working Papers 23763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    World War I; World War II; Spanish Flu; Adult outcomes; Childhood circumstances; Europe; Human mortality database; SHARE; ELSA;

    JEL classification:

    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-

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