Detailed Geographic Information, Conflict Exposure, and Health Impacts

Richard Akresh, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
German Caruso, The World Bank Group
Harsha Thirumurthy , University of Pennsylvania

We estimate the impact of exposure to conflict on health outcomes using geographic information on households’ distance from conflict sites—a more accurate measure of shock exposure—and compare 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. Conflict-exposed children have lower height-for-age. Previous research finds that correcting for a household’s wartime migration across regions leads to estimated negative impacts that are 13% larger. We find that using GPS information and taking into account how far the household is from the conflict leads to negative impacts of conflict exposure that are 2-3 times larger than if exposure is measured at the imprecise regional level. Results are robust to addressing endogenous migration.

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 Presented in Session 201. Exposure to Collective Violence/Conflict and Child/Youth Well-being: International Perspectives