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Collateral damage: Educational attainment and labor market outcomes among German war and post-war cohorts

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  • Jürges, Hendrik

    () (Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA))

Abstract

We use data from the West German 1970 census to explore the link between being born during or shortly after World War II and educational and labor market outcomes 25 years later. We document, for the first time, that men and women born in the relatively short period between November 1945 and May 1946 have significantly and substantially lower educational attainment and occupational status than cohorts born shortly before or after. Several alternative explanations for this new finding are put to test. Most likely, a short but severe spell of quantitative and qualitative malnutrition immediately around the end of the war has impaired intrauterine conditions in first trimester pregnancies and resulted in longterm detriments among the affected cohorts. This conjecture is corroborated by evidence from Austria.

Suggested Citation

  • Jürges, Hendrik, 2012. "Collateral damage: Educational attainment and labor market outcomes among German war and post-war cohorts," MEA discussion paper series 201202, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:mea:meawpa:201202
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jörn-Steffen Pischke & Till von Wachter, 2008. "Zero Returns to Compulsory Schooling in Germany: Evidence and Interpretation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 592-598, August.
    2. Neelsen, Sven & Stratmann, Thomas, 2011. "Effects of prenatal and early life malnutrition: Evidence from the Greek famine," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 479-488, May.
    3. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 1-22, May.
    4. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Mårten Palme, 2009. "Chernobyl's Subclinical Legacy: Prenatal Exposure to Radioactive Fallout and School Outcomes in Sweden," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1729-1772.
    5. Jason M. Fletcher & Jody L. Sindelar, 2009. "Estimating Causal Effects of Early Occupational Choice on Later Health: Evidence Using the PSID," NBER Working Papers 15256, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Sanders, Nicholas J. & Stoecker, Charles, 2015. "Where have all the young men gone? Using sex ratios to measure fetal death rates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 30-45.
    7. Giorgio Brunello, 2010. "The effects of cohort size on European earnings," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(1), pages 273-290, January.
    8. Scholte, Robert S. & van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lindeboom, Maarten, 2015. "Long-run effects of gestation during the Dutch Hunger Winter famine on labor market and hospitalization outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 17-30.
    9. Steffen Reinhold & Hendrik Jürges, 2010. "Secondary school fees and the causal effect of schooling on health behavior," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(8), pages 994-1001, August.
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    11. Lance Lochner, 2010. "Non-Production Benefits of Education: Crime, Health and Good Citizenship," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20107, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
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    14. Lindeboom, Maarten & Portrait, France & van den Berg, Gerard J., 2010. "Long-run effects on longevity of a nutritional shock early in life: The Dutch Potato famine of 1846-1847," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 617-629, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-

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