The Long Term Educational Cost of War: Evidence from Landmine Contamination in Cambodia
The economic impact of war may be visible in the long run and particularly through its impact on human capital. This paper uses unique district level data on landmine contamination intensity in Cambodia combined with survey data on individuals to evaluate the long-run impact of Cambodia's 30 years of war (1970-1998) on education levels and earnings. These effects are identified using difference-in-differences (DD) and instrumental variables (IV) estimators. In the DD framework I exploit two sources of variation in an individual's exposure to the conflict: age in 1970 and landmine contamination intensity in the district of residence. The IV specification uses the distance to the Thai border as an exogenous source of variation in landmine contamination intensity. The most conservative result indicates that individuals who were too young to have attended school before the start of the war received on average 0.5 less years of education. And, immediately after the war there was no visible effect on earnings. The effects are therefore overall weak. I argue that the destruction of physical capital may be what contributes to drive down the returns to education in Cambodia post-war. The estimates reported may be very conservative due to both error in our measure of conflict intensity and possible selection bias in the placement of prosperous regions.
Volume (Year): 47 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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