From Conflict to Empty Stomachs and Empty Classrooms to Empty Wallets

Marcus Marktanner & Almuth D Merkel

The transmission mechanism from conflict to reduced income is typically captured by three D’s: Destruction of scarce resources, diversion of scarce resources from a peace to a war economy, and the disruption of economic activity. The destruction of scarce resources does not only include tangible capital such as machines and physical infrastructure, but also non-tangible resources such as human capital through the deterioration of public health, sometimes referred to as the third army of war, and depreciation of existing human capital.

Conflict Intensity

School Enrolment

Food Insecurity

Income per capita (ln)

Conflict affects the health and educational status of members of society who are not yet part of the labor force. We therefore ask:

How do the indirect and delayed effects of conflict on income through the deterioration of youth health and education compare to the immediate direct effects?

The diversion of scarce resources from a peace to a conflict economy implies the withdrawal of resources available for public health and education into warfare activities, which in turn increases the pressure on the provision of public health care and education services.

Measure value
Conclict Score
Food Insecurity
Secondary School Enrolment
Income per Capita

Lastly, the disruption of economic activity makes it more difficult for providers of health care and education services to maintain essential inventories of medical supplies and learning materials. In short, the three D’s of conflict substantially affect public health and education.

The Impact of Conflict on Food Insecurity

The Impact of Conflict on School Enrolment

The Impact of Conflict on Income

These findings might be useful for humanitarian assistance programming. They suggest that humanitarian assistance programming should, whenever possible, not only emphasize the immediate saving of lives, but the provision of educational services. Of course, while such a policy may not always be feasible, our findings may still be used for humanitarian assistance operations by creating greater awareness for the long-term consequences of conflict and thus contribute to a more informed public debate.

This Project was generously funded by the Education Economics Center at Kennesaw State University.

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