War: Unhealthy for Children

“War is not healthy for children and other living things” was a popular slogan of the anti-war movements of the 1960s. But new research shows that it’s not just war that’s hazardous: excessive military spending also significantly increases children’s mortality rates.

Sociologist Steve Carlton-Ford, in a paper delivered at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver last year, suggested that when military spending per soldier substantially exceeds the average national income, child mortality rates jump dramatically.

While “moderate” military spending may not affect child mortality rates, spending on civil wars, the predominant form of war since WWII, destroys economies and leads to sudden increases in infant and child mortality rates.

Among the top 25 percent of countries in terms of military spending, child mortality rates are more than double those of lower spending countries, with an average of 117 child deaths per thousand, far exceeding average rates of between 30 and 50 child deaths.

The impact of military spending on child mortality rates holds even after considering the effects of civil war, basic levels of military spending, the size of armies, economic development, government corruption, and type of government.

It all goes to show that war isn’t healthy for children. And neither is military spending.