The Impact of Terrorism on Child Mortality

Terror has led to rising mortality rates among children in Africa. This is the result of a new study by WZB Researcher Daniel Meierrieks and WZB Fellow Max Schaub. They examined the relationship between terrorism and child mortality in 52 African countries from 2000 to 2017, using geocoded terrorism data and disaggregated child mortality data.

While direct deaths from terrorism are minimal, adverse behavioral responses by policymakers, medical workers, and parents emerge as significant contributors to increased child mortality. Policymakers may shift resources away from healthcare towards security services, fear of victimization may drive health workers out of conflict-affected areas and concerns about future violence may keep parents from having their children vaccinated or bringing them in for medical checkups. In line with these ideas, the analysis reveals correlations between terrorism and several proximate causes of child mortality, such as malaria incidence, immunization rates, and malnutrition. Moreover, comparisons with other causes of child mortality highlight the substantial impact of terrorism on African child health, similar to diseases such as measles and tetanus.

The policy implications are profound, underscoring the need for both counterterrorism measures and strategies to mitigate harmful behavioral responses. Policymakers are urged to consider the long-term consequences of terrorism on child health and to implement targeted interventions, including educational campaigns, to change perceptions and behaviors related to terrorism. Despite progress in reducing child mortality, terrorism remains a formidable challenge that requires concerted efforts to ensure the well-being of Africa's children.

5/2/2024, kes