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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Léonce Ndikumana

Second Advisor

James Heintz

Third Advisor

Lynda Pickbourn

Subject Categories

Economics | Health Economics | Other Economics


The objective of this dissertation is to examine the impact of early life events such as civil conflicts and rainfall variability on child welfare in Côte d’Ivoire and investigate possible mitigating factors. It consists of three essays. Focusing on the 2010-2011 post-electoral violence, the empirical results from the first essay show that armed conflicts reduce the birth weight of newborn children who were in-utero during the conflict and increase the probability among exposed pregnant women of having an underweight child at birth. In addition, the study suggests that the impact of conflict on birth weight and low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams) is significant in the second trimester compared to other stages of the pregnancy and that maternal prenatal care is a possible mechanism through which the effect of conflict on low birth weight might be attenuated.The second essay deals with the effect of rainfall variability on breastfeeding duration in Côte d’Ivoire using the 1994 DHS survey and rainfall data from various weather stations across the country. I find that for women living in rural areas or engaged in agricultural activities, rainfall variability around the time of birth and one year after birth reduces breastfeeding due to the competition between breastfeeding and farm work. The study suggests that land ownership and the availability of childcare assistance are possible mechanisms that can alleviate the competition between breastfeeding time and agricultural work. Finally, the third essay builds on previous work on the microeconomic effects of armed conflicts on children in conjunction with the fetal origins hypothesis to investigate the effects of early life shocks on child health. Using various surveys from the country (DHS and UNICEF-MICS) as well as data on the exact location and timing of conflicts, the empirical evidence shows that conflict reduces significantly the height-for-age z-score of exposed children compared to their non-exposed counterparts. The results also suggest that the negative effects of conflict are larger the longer the conflict duration, and that UN peacekeepers might mitigate these negative effects even after the conflict has ended.