War and Schooling in South Sudan, 2013-2016
South Sudan was embroiled in a civil war from mid-December 2013 to mid-September 2018. Nearly 400,000 people died, and several million were displaced. The economy nearly collapsed as the nation’s output was severely reduced, causing inflation to soar. While prior research on the immediate humanitarian crisis in South Sudan has focused on forced displacement and food insecurity, there is little information available about the long-term impact the war had on human capital accumulation in this context. This analysis exploits spatial variation in exposure to violence to estimate the causal impact of the recent civil war on primary school enrollment as a proxy for measuring human capital accumulation. Results based on the difference-in-differences methodology indicate a statistically significant relationship between school enrollment and the war. The study shows that schools located in the South Sudanese war zones lost 85 children per year on average, or 18.5 percent of total enrollment. The diminishing trends in girls’ enrollment are unrelated to the war, which is not surprising; social barriers, including gendered domestic roles, early marriage, and out-of-wedlock pregnancies, have long impeded female educational opportunities in South Sudan. These effects are robust to a number of specifications, including holding constant school-level fixed effects and adjusting for the standard errors. The article presents important policy implications for education and the labor market, both locally and internationally.