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Childhood circumstances and adult outcomes: Evidence from World War II

  • Enkelejda Havari

    (Tor Vergata University)

  • Franco Peracchi

    (Tor Vergata University and EIEF)

This paper studies the effects of episodes of stress, poor health, financial hardship and hunger earlier in life on education and health in later life. As a source of identification, we exploit the huge temporal and regional variation of war-related events in Europe during the period from the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 to the end of World War II in 1945. We focus on the cohorts born between 1930 and 1954 in 13 European countries, and combine the available historical information with micro-level data from the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), which provides detailed retrospective information on life histories from childhood to adulthood for people born before 1955. Using these data we find that hunger episodes are more closely associated with war than any other hardship episode. Our instrumental variable estimates suggest that hunger in childhood or early adolescence has important negative effects on educational attainments and various measures of physical and mental health past age 50. They also suggest that suffering hunger for longer periods has stronger negative effects.

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Paper provided by Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) in its series EIEF Working Papers Series with number 1115.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision: Aug 2012
Handle: RePEc:eie:wpaper:1115
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  1. Gørgens, Tue & Meng, Xin & Vaithianathan, Rhema, 2010. "Stunting and Selection Effects of Famine: A Case Study of the Great Chinese Famine," PRIMCED Discussion Paper Series 2, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
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  10. Glewwe, Paul & Jacoby, Hanan G. & King, Elizabeth M., 2001. "Early childhood nutrition and academic achievement: a longitudinal analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(3), pages 345-368, September.
  11. Sven Neelsen & Thomas Stratmann, 2010. "Effects of Prenatal and Early Life Malnutrition: Evidence from the Greek Famine," CESifo Working Paper Series 2994, CESifo Group Munich.
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  13. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong Wha, 2013. "A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 184-198.
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  16. Gabriella Conti & James Heckman & Sergio Urzua, 2010. "The Education-Health Gradient," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 234-38, May.
  17. Kelly Bedard & Olivier Deschênes, 2006. "The Long-Term Impact of Military Service on Health: Evidence from World War II and Korean War Veterans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 176-194, March.
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