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War is not healthy. Political violence and infant health outcomes in Colombia

Piedad Urdinola, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogota

Violence reached epidemic proportions in Colombia. The demographic effects of violence go beyond counting casualties. The very nature of the hidden victims makes it hard to measure. This paper measures the effects of political violence in Colombia on a subpopulation that is not directly involved in it, namely infants. This issue is addressed by investigating the effects on infant’s health outcomes, using DHS information for births between 1990 and 2000. The study includes several covariates at the municipality and individual level in a random effect logit model. More importantly, it exploits women’s fertility history, which allows for a quasi-experimental design for brothers born to the same mother at the same municipality, but that differ on violence intensity. The results show that violence increases the probability of dying for males by 0.4% and births at violent municipalities have three times higher probability of being born below 2500 grams, than their counterparts.

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Presented in Session 7: Consequences of armed conflict on children and on youth