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Civil War, Crop Failure, and the Health Status of Young Children

  • Akresh, Richard


    (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

  • Verwimp, Philip


    (ISS, Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Economic shocks at birth have lasting impacts on children’s health several years after the shock. We calculate height for age z-scores for children under age five using data from a Rwandan nationally representative household survey conducted in 1992. We exploit district and time variation in crop failure and civil conflict to measure the impact of exogenous shocks that children experience at birth on their height several years later. We find that girls born after a shock in a region experiencing these events exhibit 0.72 standard deviations lower height for age z-scores and the impact is worse for poor households. There is no impact of these shocks on boys’ health status. Results are robust to using household level production and rainfall shocks as alternative measures of crop failure. The analysis also contributes to the debate on the economic conditions prevailing on the eve of the Rwandan genocide.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2359.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Development and Cultural Change, 2011, 59(4), 777-810
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2359
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  1. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1308-1334, December.
  2. Elizabeth Frankenberg & James P. Smith & Duncan Thomas, 2003. "Economic Shocks, Wealth, and Welfare," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(2).
  3. Harold Alderman & John Hoddinott & Bill Kinsey, 2006. "Long term consequences of early childhood malnutrition," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(3), pages 450-474, July.
  4. Rosemary Hyson & Janet Currie, 1999. "Is the Impact of Health Shocks Cushioned by Socioeconomic Status? The Case of Low Birthweight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 245-250, May.
  5. Patricia Justino, 2006. "On the Links between Violent Conflict and Chronic Poverty: How Much Do We Really Know?," HiCN Working Papers 18, Households in Conflict Network.
  6. Thomas, D. & Lavy, V. & Strauss, J., 1991. "Public Policy and Anthropometric Outcomes in the Cote d'Ivoire," Papers 643, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  7. Haddad, Lawrence & Hoddinott, John & Alderman, Harold & DEC, 1994. "Intrahousehold resource allocation : an overview," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1255, The World Bank.
  8. Elaina Rose, 1999. "Consumption Smoothing and Excess Female Mortality in Rural India," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 41-49, February.
  9. Clay, Daniel & Reardon, Thomas & Kangasniemi, Jaakko, 1998. "Sustainable Intensification in the Highland Tropics: Rwandan Farmers' Investments in Land Conservation and Soil Fertility," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 351-77, January.
  10. John Bellows & Edward Miguel, 2006. "War and Institutions: New Evidence from Sierra Leone," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 394-399, May.
  11. Futoshi Yamauchi, 2008. "Early Childhood Nutrition, Schooling, and Sibling Inequality in a Dynamic Context: Evidence from South Africa," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 657-682.
  12. Verwimp, Philip, 2005. "An economic profile of peasant perpetrators of genocide: Micro-level evidence from Rwanda," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 297-323, August.
  13. Patricia Justino & Philip Verwimp, 2006. "Poverty Dynamics, Violent Conflict and Convergence in Rwanda," HiCN Working Papers 16, Households in Conflict Network.
  14. Andre, Catherine & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 1998. "Land relations under unbearable stress: Rwanda caught in the Malthusian trap," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 1-47, January.
  15. Philip Verwimp & Jan Van Bavel, 2004. "Child Survival and the Fertility of Refugees in Rwanda after the Genocide," PRUS Working Papers 26, Poverty Research Unit at Sussex, University of Sussex.
  16. Behrman, Jere R, 1988. "Intrahousehold Allocation of Nutrients in Rural India: Are Boys Favored? Do Parents Exhibit Inequality Aversion?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(1), pages 32-54, March.
  17. Sharon L. Maccini & Dean Yang, 2008. "Under the Weather: Health, Schooling, and Economic Consequences of Early-Life Rainfall," NBER Working Papers 14031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Edward Miguel & Shanker Satyanath & Ernest Sergenti, 2004. "Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: An Instrumental Variables Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 725-753, August.
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