Violent Conflict and Breastfeeding: The Case of Iraq

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

See all articles by Vidya Diwakar

Vidya Diwakar

Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

Michael Malcolm

West Chester University of Pennsylvania

George Naufal

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


This study explores the relationship between armed conflict and breastfeeding practices of Iraqi mothers. Using a unique pairing of the Iraq Body Count database, in conjunction with the 2006 and 2011 Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys for Iraq, we find that increases in conflict-related casualties are associated with a decline in breastfeeding incidence, with some mixed results on breastfeeding duration. We also explore a number of potential causal channels, including interactions with household wealth and accessibility of formula. The results are informative in the context of designing policy aimed at stabilizing the long-term health and productivity of populations in conflict areas.

Keywords: Middle East, breastfeeding, conflict, Iraq

JEL Classification: D74, I1, J13, J18

Suggested Citation

Diwakar, Vidya and Malcolm, Michael and Naufal, George Sami, Violent Conflict and Breastfeeding: The Case of Iraq. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10937, Available at SSRN: or

Vidya Diwakar (Contact Author)

Overseas Development Institute (ODI) ( email )

111 Westminister Bridge Rd.
London, SE17JD
United Kingdom

Michael Malcolm

West Chester University of Pennsylvania

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