The Impact of Conflict on Education Attainment and Enrollment in Colombia: lessons from recent IDPs


Forty years of low-intensity internal armed conflict have made Colombia home to over 3 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), the world’s largest population. The effect of violence on a child’s education is of particular concern because of the critical role that education plays inincreasing human capital and productivity. This paper explores the education accumulation and enrollment gaps created by being directly affected by conflict. We proxy for this direct impact by focusing on IDPs. First, we show that measuring the impact of conflict on children using levels of conflict at the municipal level underestimates the education enrollment and accumulation gaps. We subsequently estimate the education accumulation and enrollment gaps for IDPs in comparison to non-migrants and other migrants using various econometric techniques. Our results suggest a significant education accumulation gap for children of IDPs compared to non-migrants that widens to approximately half a year at the secondary level. We find no evidence of enrollment gaps at the primary level when appropriate controls are included, but we do find a lower probability of enrollment at the secondary level. The disparity in effects when we focus on direct exposure to conflict versus a dummy that captures living in a municipality with high conflict suggests the need to be careful when using the latter to estimate the impact of conflict.

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