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The legacy effect of unexploded bombs on educational attainment in Laos

Shiqi Guo

Journal of Development Economics, 2020, vol. 147, issue C

Abstract: Between 1964 and 1973, the U.S. dropped two million tons of bombs on Laos. As the legacy of war, unexploded ordnance (UXO) contaminates a quarter of villages. This paper studies the long-term impact of UXO on education, exploiting the instrumental variable that originates from the geography of U.S. bombing campaigns in Laos. It finds that bombing not only interrupts the education of wartime cohorts, but also has strong and persistent negative impacts on the education of postwar cohorts through the legacy of UXO. Two decades after the U.S. bombing ended, school-age children with exposure to the average level of UXO contamination still had 1.3 fewer years of education. I rule out other mechanisms and show that with UXO in farmland, villagers farm more carefully and slowly. This reduction in farming efficiency demands more labor to sustain subsistence farming. In response, children drop out of school to supplement agricultural labor.

Keywords: Conflict; Unexploded ordnance; Legacy effect; Education; Human capital; Laos (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I20 N35 N45 O12 O15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:deveco:v:147:y:2020:i:c:s0304387820301024

DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2020.102527

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