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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The (Hidden) Costs of Political Instability: Evidence from Kenya's 2007 Election Crisis


This paper studies the microeconomic impacts of the political crisis and civil conflict that immediately followed the December 2007 Presidential Election in Kenya. Income, expenditures, and consumption dramatically declined for a broad segment of the rural population for the duration of the conflict. To make up for the income shortfall, women who supply transactional sex engaged in higher risk sex both during and after the crisis. While this particular crisis was likely too short for these behavioral responses to seriously increase the risk of HIV or other STIs for these women, such responses could have long-term repercussions for health in countries with longer or more frequent crises. Overall, our results suggest that social unrest can be an important channel through which political instability can affect long-term outcomes such as health.

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