The long-run effects of war on health: Evidence from World War II in France

Olivier Allais, Guy Fagherazzi, Julia Mink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate the effects of early-life exposure to war on adult health outcomes including cancer, hypertension, angina, infarction, diabetes and obesity. We combine data from the French prospective cohort study E3N on women employed in the French National Education with historical data on World War II. To identify causal effects, we exploit exogenous spatial and temporal variation in war exposure related to the German invasion of France during the Battle of France. The number of French military casualties at the level of the postcode area serves as main measure of exposure. Our results suggest that exposure to the war during the first 5 years of life has significant adverse effects on health in adulthood. A 10 percent increase in the number of deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in the individual's postcode area of birth increases the probability of suffering from any of the health conditions considered in this study by 0.08 percentage points. This is relative to a mean of 49 percent for the sample as a whole.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113812
Pages (from-to)113812
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Developmental origins
  • Early-life exposure
  • Health
  • Human capital development
  • World war II


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