The Human Capital Peace Dividend
A large body of literature has documented negative effects of civil conflict on the educational outcomes of affected children across different countries and historical periods. The opposite is however not obvious. Because conflict can damage educational infrastructure, and violence reductions attract economic activity and thus increase the opportunity cost of schooling, it may take a long time for conflict-affected societies to offset the loss in human capital after violence is over. In this paper we study the effect of Colombia’s recent efforts to end the conflict with the FARC insurgency on short-term school dropout rates. Using a difference-in-differences identification strategy, we find that the permanent ceasefire declared by FARC during peace negotiations with the government induced a large differential reduction on school dropout rates in the areas most affected by FARC violence prior to the ceasefire, relative to other areas. We show that these results are mainly not driven by the recruitment of children during conflict. Rather, our evidence suggests that most the reduction in school dropout is incentivized by a decrease in the overall victimization in areas that experienced FARC violence. Moreover, the effect of the ceasefire on dropout rates is attenuated by the contemporaneous increase in coca growing in for- mer FARC-affected regions.