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

Author

Listed:
  • Enkelejda Havari

    (University of Venice "Cà Foscari")

  • Franco Peracchi

    (University of Rome "Tor Vergata" and EIEF)

Abstract

We study the long-term consequences of war on health and human capital of Europeans born during the first half of the twentieth century, a period that has been termed the "era of two world wars". This period includes not only WW1 and WW2, but also the Spanish Flu and a long series of armed con icts which foreshadowed or followed the two world wars. Using a variety of data, at both the macro- and the micro-level, we address the following questions: What are the patterns of mortality and survival among people born during this era? What are the consequences of early-life shocks on the health and human capital of the survivors some 50 years later? Do these consequences differ by gender, socio-economic status in childhood, and age when the shocks occurred? We find that mortality is much higher in war- than in non-war countries during WW1 and WW2, but not during the Spanish Flu. We also find important differences between WW1 and WW2 in the mortality patterns by gender and age. As for the long-term consequences of mortality shocks on the survivors, we find little evidence of increased adult mortality for people born during WW1 and WW2, but some evidence for people born during the Spanish Flu, especially, in England and Wales, France and Italy. On the other hand, war-related hardship episodes in childhood or adolescence (in particular exposure to war events and hunger) are strong predictors of physical and mental health, education, cognitive ability and wellbeing past age 50. The magnitude of the estimated effects differs by socio-economic status in childhood and gender, with exposure to war events having a larger impact on females and exposure to hunger having a larger impact on males. We also find that exposure to hunger matters more in childhood, while exposure to war events matters more in adolescence. Finally, we find that hardship episodes have stronger consequences if they last longer.

Suggested Citation

  • Enkelejda Havari & Franco Peracchi, 2014. "Growing up in wartime - Evidence from the era of two world wars," EIEF Working Papers Series 1405, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Sep 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:eie:wpaper:1405
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

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