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The Long Term Educational Cost of War: Evidence from Landmine Contamination in Cambodia

  • Ouarda Merrouche

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.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Development Studies.

Volume (Year): 47 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 399-416

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:47:y:2011:i:3:p:399-416
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  1. Pitt, Mark M & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Gibbons, Donna M, 1993. "The Determinants and Consequences of the Placement of Government Programs in Indonesia," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 7(3), pages 319-48, September.
  2. Massimo Guidolin & Eliana La Ferrara, 2006. "Diamonds are forever, wars are not. Is conflict bad for private firms?," Working Papers 2005-004, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  3. Andrea Ichino & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2004. "The Long-Run Educational Cost of World War II," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(1), pages 57-86, January.
  4. Alberto Abadie & Javier Gardeazabal, 2001. "The Economic Costs of Conflict: A Case-Control Study for the Basque Country," NBER Working Papers 8478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Banerjee, Abhijit V. & Duflo, Esther, 2005. "Growth Theory through the Lens of Development Economics," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 473-552 Elsevier.
  6. Ouarda Merrouche, 2006. "Economic Consequences of Wars: Evidence from Landmine Contamination in Mozambique," Economics Working Papers ECO2006/22, European University Institute.
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