Medium-Term Health Impacts of Shocks Experienced in Utero and after Birth: Evidence from Detailed Geographic Information on War Exposure

43 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2014 Last revised: 8 Jan 2015

See all articles by Richard Akresh

Richard Akresh

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Germán Caruso

World Bank; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Economics

Harsha Thirumurthy

University of Pennsylvania; Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, University of Pennsylvania; University of Pennsylvania - Population Studies Center

Date Written: December 2014

Abstract

This paper estimates the impact of armed conflict on subsequent health outcomes using detailed geographic information on households’ distance from conflict sites—a more accurate measure of conflict exposure— and compares the impact on children exposed in utero versus after birth. The identification strategy relies on exogenous variation in the conflict’s geographic extent and timing as well as the exposure of different birth cohorts while in utero or after birth. Results show that war-exposed children subsequently have lower height-for-age Z-scores, and impacts using GPS information are 87-188% larger than if exposure is measured at the imprecise regional level. Effects of in utero and after birth exposure are comparable in magnitude, and children in the war instigating and losing country (Eritrea) suffer more than the winning nation (Ethiopia). Results are robust to including region-specific time trends, alternative conflict exposure measures, and addressing potential bias due to selective migration.

Suggested Citation

Akresh, Richard and Caruso, German and Thirumurthy, Harsha, Medium-Term Health Impacts of Shocks Experienced in Utero and after Birth: Evidence from Detailed Geographic Information on War Exposure (December 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20763, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2541539

Richard Akresh (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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German Caruso

World Bank ( email )

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Economics ( email )

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Harsha Thirumurthy

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

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Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

University of Pennsylvania - Population Studies Center ( email )

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United States

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