War and the Destruction of Human Capital

Year: 2014 HiCN Working Paper No. 163

The identification of the effect of wars on human capital tends to focus on the population of school age children at the time of the conflict. Our paper introduces a methodology to estimate the effect of war on the stock of human capital by examining the changes in the presence of educated people after the Rwanda genocide. We find that the genocide reduced the stock of human capital in Rwanda severely. The before-and-after results show that highly educated individuals (i.e., those with primary education or more) are “missing” at a rate that is 19.4% higher than the less educated. Moreover, Rwanda’s average years of schooling is lower by 0.37 years. When comparisons with Uganda are made, these estimates more than double suggesting that, if anything, the previous finding were biased downwards. Interestingly, when the cross-sectional variation within Rwanda variation in intensity of genocide is exploited there is no evidence of statistically significant differences. This suggests that the losses in the stock of human capital due to the Rwandan genocide were aggregate in nature.