The educational impact of shocks in utero: Evidence from Rwanda

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Research on the impact of violence and conflict on education typically focuses on exposure among a cohort of school-aged children. In line with the fetal origins hypothesis, this paper studies the long-run effect of exposure to adverse maternal health shocks while still in the womb. Exploiting the sudden and discrete nature of the Rwandan genocide and an identification strategy based on temporal and spatial variation, we find that the cohort in utero during the genocide reported on average 0.3 fewer years of schooling in the 2012 Rwanda. Population and Housing Census and was 8% points less likely to finish primary school relative to the cohort in utero just a couple of months later.

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