The literature on the long-run effects of war has largely neglected the labour market implications of permanent illness or injury from conflict among the civilian population. From 1969 to 1998, Northern Ireland experienced a violent ethnopolitical conflict characterised by terrorist bombing campaigns, sectarian killings and armed forces patrolling the streets. The consequences of this
period for current high work disability rates are disputed by the main political parties. We address this question using a new high-quality dataset. Potential endogeneity and reverse causation issues are addressed using the intensity of conflict-related deaths as instruments. We find clear evidence that conflict has increased work disability by 9.0 percentage points. The only doctor-diagnosed
medical condition mediating this effect is mental ill-health. It is timely to consider the likely enduring economic consequences of a return to violence in the context of the potentially destabilising effects of Brexit.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics
Early online date05 May 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 05 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to all the participants of the NICOLA Study, and the whole NICOLA team, which includes nursing staff, research scientists, clerical staff, computer and laboratory technicians, managers and receptionists. The Atlantic Philanthropies, the Economic and Social Research Council, the UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health Northern Ireland, the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland, the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, the Health and Social Care Research and Development Division of the Public Health Agency, the Wellcome Trust/Wolfson Foundation and Queen's University Belfast provide core financial support for NICOLA. The authors alone are responsible for the interpretation of the data and any views or opinions presented are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the NICOLA Study team.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics published by Oxford University and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


Dive into the research topics of 'Work disability and the Northern Irish Troubles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this