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The unequal burden of war : the effect of armed conflict on the gender gap in life expectancy

Plümper, Thomas and Neumayer, Eric ORCID: 0000-0003-2719-7563 (2006) The unequal burden of war : the effect of armed conflict on the gender gap in life expectancy. International Organization, 60 (3). pp. 723-754. ISSN 0020-8183

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0020818306060231


Most combatants in armed conflict are men, so naturally men are the major direct victims of military operations. Yet, armed conflicts have important indirect negative consequences on agriculture, infrastructure, public health provision and social order. These indirect consequences are often overlooked and under-appreciated. They will also affect women and arguably more so than men. This article provides the first rigorous analysis of the impact of armed conflict on female relative to male life expectancy. We find that over the entire conflict period interstate and civil wars on average affect women more adversely than men. In peace times, women typically live longer than men. Hence, armed conflict tends to decrease the gap between female and male life expectancy. For civil wars, we find that it is ethnic wars that are damaging to women and particularly so if they take place in ‘failed’ states. Our findings challenge policy makers as well as international and humanitarian organizations to develop policies that tackle the large indirect and long-term negative health impacts of armed conflicts.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2006 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2008
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2024 23:11

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