Child Discipline in Times of Conflict

26 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2017 Last revised: 26 Apr 2023

See all articles by Michael Malcolm

Michael Malcolm

West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Vidya Diwakar

Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

George Naufal

Texas A&M University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Economic Research Forum (ERF)


Using a unique pairing of household survey data and geolocational conflict data, we investigate the relationship between local conflict intensity and the disciplinary methods employed by Iraqi households. We find that parents in high-conflict areas are more likely to use both moderate and severe corporal punishment, and are less likely to use constructive parenting techniques like redirection. While there is a general sense that war has profound long-term impacts on the psychological health of children, research on transmission mechanisms is very limited. These are among the first results that rigorously document an association between violent conflict and child maltreatment and, to our knowledge, the first that document changes in child discipline practices even across a mainstream parenting spectrum. Given the persistence of early childhood outcomes into adulthood, these results are potentially an important piece of assessing and mitigating the long-term costs of war on the civilian population.

Keywords: Middle East, mental health, child discipline, Iraq war, household interactions

JEL Classification: D10, F51, J13, N45

Suggested Citation

Malcolm, Michael and Diwakar, Vidya and Naufal, George Sami, Child Discipline in Times of Conflict. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10936, Available at SSRN: or

Michael Malcolm (Contact Author)

West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Vidya Diwakar

Overseas Development Institute (ODI) ( email )

111 Westminister Bridge Rd.
London, SE17JD
United Kingdom

George Sami Naufal

Texas A&M University ( email )

Public Policy Research Institute
4476 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Economic Research Forum (ERF) ( email )

21 Al-Sad Al-Aaly St.
(P.O. Box: 12311)
Dokki, Cairo

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics