Effect of Forced Displacement on Health

Ivan Zilic

Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A (Statistics in Society), Volume 181, Issue 3 (2018), Pages 889-906



This paper analyzes health consequences of forced displacement during the war in Croatia between 1991-1995, part of the larger-scale conflicts that accompanied the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. Specifically, the authors test whether displacement is relevant in explaining various dimensions of health of females, including measured and self-assessed health. The authors employ an instrumental variable approach to address the potential endogeneity of displacement status (using civilian casualties across counties as an instrument for displacement status). The analysis is based on data from the 2003 Croatian Adult Health Survey 2003, which coincides with the return of the majority of IDPs to their homes.

Key findings:

  • Displacement has an adverse effect on measured and self-assessed health outcomes for females. Displacement significantly increases the risk of hypertension and tachycardia and it also reduces self-assessed health and subjective indicators of emotional and mental health. Incidence of obesity is not affected by displacement status.
  • Faced with armed conflict, individuals with better latent health, conditional on age and education level, were more likely to move.
  • No robust and significant effects of displacement on healthy behaviors, nor on marriage status and labor activity.
  • Displacement leads to a higher probability of reporting below average household income. This suggests that displaced individuals are, due to dispossession, facing adverse economic conditions.