The long arm of conflict: How timing shapes the impact of childhood exposure to war

Daniel Ramirez, Steven A. Haas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This paper examines how the timing of childhood exposure to armed conflict influ ences both the mag ni tude of the impact it has on later-life health and the pathways through which those impacts manifest. Utilizing the Survey of Health and Retirement in Europe, we examine cohorts of children during World War II. We find that cohorts born dur ing the war show the larg est neg a tive effects of expo sure on health in later life. The pathways also vary the timing of exposure. Consistent with a latent critical period process, children born during the war experienced increased risk of poor health and illness in childhood, as well as adult cardiometabolic conditions and poor functional health. Conversely, cohorts born before the war experienced more indirect pathways consistent with cumulative disadvantage processes and institutional breakdown. These pathways include stunted socioeconomic attainment, increased risk behaviors, and poorer mental health. Overall, this study emphasizes that the timing of exposure is critical to understanding the long-term health effects of war.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)951-974
Number of pages24
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography


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