Violent Conflict and Human Capital Accumulation

Year: 2011 HiCN Working Paper No. 099

This paper reviews and discusses available empirical research on the impact of violent conflict on the level and access to education of civilian and combatant populations affected by violence. Three main themes emerge from this empirical review. The first is that relatively minor shocks to educational access can lead to significant and long-lasting detrimental effects on individual human capital formation in terms of educational attainment, health outcomes and labour market opportunities. Secondly, the destruction of infrastructure, the absence of teachers and reductions in schooling capacity affect secondary schooling disproportionately. Finally, the exposure of households to violence results in significant gender differentials in individual educational outcomes. The paper then turns its attention to the specific mechanisms that link violent conflict with educational outcomes, an area largely unexplored in the literatures on conflict and education. The paper focuses six key mechanisms: soldiering, household labour allocation decisions, fear, changes in returns to education, targeting of schools, teachers and students and displacement.