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Children of War: The Long-Run Effects of Large-Scale Physical Destruction and Warfare on Children

  • Mevlude Akbulut-Yuksel

    ()

    (Dalhousie University)

During World War II, more than half a million tons of bombs were dropped in aerial raids on German cities, destroying about one-third of the total housing stock. This paper provides causal evidence on long-term consequences of large-scale physical destruction on the educational attainment, health status and labor market outcomes of German children. I combine a unique dataset on city-level destruction in Germany caused by Allied Air Forces bombing during WWII with individual survey data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP). My identification strategy exploits the plausibly exogenous city-by-cohort variation in the intensity of WWII destruction as a unique quasi-experiment. My findings are as follows: First, these children had 0.4 fewer years of schooling on average in adulthood, with those in the most hard-hit cities completing 1.2 fewer years. Second, these children were about one centimeter shorter and had lower self-reported health satisfaction in adulthood. Third, their future labor market earnings decreased by 6% on average due to exposure to wartime physical destruction. These results survive using alternative samples and specifications, including controlling for migration. Moreover, a control experiment using older cohorts who were not school-aged during WWII reveals no significant city-specific cohort trends in schooling. An important channel for the effect of destruction on educational attainment appears to be the destruction of schools and the absence of teachers, whereas malnutrition and destruction of health facilities during WWII seems to be important for the estimated impact on health.

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Paper provided by Households in Conflict Network in its series HiCN Working Papers with number 62.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hic:wpaper:62
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.hicn.org

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  1. 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.
  2. Richard Akresh & Damien de Walque, 2008. "Armed Conflict and Schooling: Evidence from the 1994 Rwandan Genocide," HiCN Working Papers 47, Households in Conflict Network.
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  4. Brakman, Steven & Garretsen, Harry & Schramm, Marc, 2002. "The strategic bombing of German cities during World War II and its impact on city growth," Research Report 03C03, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
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  7. Alderman,Harold & Hoddinott, John & Kinsey, Bill, 2003. "Long-term consequences of early childhood malnutrition," FCND discussion papers 168, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  8. Tom Bundervoet & Philip Verwimp & Richard Akresh, 2008. "Health and Civil War in Rural Burundi," Research Working Papers 5, MICROCON - A Micro Level Analysis of Violent Conflict.
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  11. Meng, Xin & Qian, Nancy, 2006. "The Long Run Health and Economic Consequences of Famine on Survivors: Evidence from China's Great Famine," CEPR Discussion Papers 5989, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Richard Akresh & Philip Verwimp & Tom Bundervoet, 2011. "Civil War, Crop Failure, and Child Stunting in Rwanda," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 777 - 810.
  13. Olga Shemyakina, 2006. "The Effect of Armed Conflict on Accumulation of Schooling: Results from Tajikistan," HiCN Working Papers 12, Households in Conflict Network.
  14. Christopher Blattman, 2006. "The Consequences of Child Soldiering," HiCN Working Papers 22, Households in Conflict Network.
  15. Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo & Gilles Postel-Vinay & Timothy M. Watts, 2007. "Long Run Health Impacts of Income Shocks: Wine and Phylloxera in 19th Century France," NBER Working Papers 12895, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler & Dominic Rohner, 2006. "Beyond Greed and Grievance: Feasibility and Civil War," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2006-10, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  17. Gerard J. van den Berg & Maarten Lindeboom & France Portrait, 2006. "Economic Conditions Early in Life and Individual Mortality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 290-302, March.
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