The Effects of the War in Iraq on Nutrition and Health: An Analysis Using Anthropometric Outcomes of Children


Year: 2009 HiCN Working Paper No. 055

The war in Iraq initiated in March 2003 triggered a wave of violence and turmoil in the country, exposing households to insecurity and to instability in daily life. The level of violence has varied across provinces, the south and centre areas being the most affected. Using the different intensities of the conflict across areas and the age at exposure to the war among cohorts, I analyze a possible causal effect of the war on nutritional outcomes of children. I use two empirical strategies, leading to very similar results. Estimates indicate that children born in areas affected by high levels of violence are 0.8 cm shorter than children born in low violence provinces. These results are robust to several specifications. Furthermore, the paper also addresses the channels through which the conflict has affected health and nutrition. The results have not only short-term policy implications, but also, given the empirical evidence of the impact of early child malnutrition on later education, labour and productivity outcomes, the results are of great importance for the future.

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