The effect of civil war on education, 1980-97

Brian Lai, Clayton Thyne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


This study examines the negative effects of civil wars and the post-civil war environment on educational expenditures and enrollment. Two causal mechanisms are considered. First, civil wars are likely to destroy a state's system of education through the loss of infrastructure and personnel. Second, a less deleterious cause may be the drawing away of funds for increased military expenditures to fight the civil war. Using UNESCO education data, the authors examine the percent change in educational expenditures and primary, secondary, and tertiary enrollment for all states from 1980 through 1997. The authors use a measure of when a state is in a civil war, a dynamic post-civil war measure, an interaction with military spending, and relevant control variables. The results indicate strong support for the notion that civil war is devastating for a system of education, as both expenditures and enrollment decline during periods of civil war. No support was found for the reallocation of education funds towards military spending during a civil war. These results highlight the importance of addressing the social costs of a civil war. Civil wars do not simply impose social costs because of increased funding to the military; rather, they severely disrupt a state's ability to provide even basic social services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-292
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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