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date: 20 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews the literature on the effects of aggregate crises on human biological outcomes. The crises considered are acute, severe, and unexpected negative events occurring at the population level: recessions, famines, epidemics, natural and environmental disasters, and wars. A review of the literature suggests that the effects of aggregate crises on human biology are pervasive and long-lasting. More broadly, however, the literature highlights the lasting effects that social, economic, political, environmental, and pathological crises have on the human body. Children, who are never complicit in creating crises, carry the burden of exposure for the rest of their lives. Although advances in methodology and data availability have allowed researchers to uncover these nuanced but powerful effects, much work remains in improving crisis response, especially in poor countries. Such improvements would have beneficial effects long after the acute period of a crisis subsides, on outcomes far beyond its most obvious sequelae.

Keywords: aggregate crises, famines, epidemics, wars, recessions, natural disasters, health, human capital, shocks

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