Macroeconomic prices of battle: Affect on GDP and refugee flows


Editors’ word: This column is a part of the Vox debate on the financial penalties of struggle.

Estimation of the affect of the struggle in Ukraine is hampered by availability of information and the evolving scenario on the bottom (Constantinescu et al. 2022). In response to the newest forecasts by the IMF (2022), the Ukrainian economic system is anticipated to shrink by over 35% in 2022. Given excessive uncertainty, the restoration path could possibly be extended (Blinov and Djankov 2022). To place this outlook in context, our latest paper on the macroeconomic prices of battle (Novta and Pugacheva 2021) sheds gentle on the vary of potential financial outcomes after the onset of a large-scale struggle.1 We analyse all main battle episodes over the previous 30 years and estimate the macroeconomic prices of struggle by way of the affect on GDP and its elements, in addition to refugee flows. Whereas there might be a number of variation in outcomes, relying on particular person battle and nation traits, we discover that wars are usually extremely disruptive for not less than a decade after onset, affecting all elements of the economic system, along with the incalculable humanitarian losses.

Affect of battle on GDP and its elements

First, utilizing native projections (Jordà 2005), we discover that the macroeconomic prices of battle are very massive, with GDP per capita about 28% decrease ten years after battle onset (Determine 1).2 That is overwhelmingly pushed by personal consumption, which falls by virtually 25%. Battle can also be related to dramatic declines in official commerce, with exports estimated to be 58% decrease and imports 34% decrease ten years after battle onset. Public spending doesn’t systemically decline following battle onset, maybe due to elevated army spending, mixed with decrease spending on different items and companies. Funding often falls within the yr of battle onset, however the impact is imprecisely estimated in later years. 

Disaggregating GDP into agriculture, manufacturing, and companies, we discover that battle is related to a decline in manufacturing throughout all sectors. Agriculture worth added decreases by 6% within the yr of battle onset, with the impact remaining detrimental and statistically vital for the subsequent 5 years. Manufacturing declines by 16% within the yr of battle onset and by 38% cumulatively ten years after the shock. Companies decline by 12% on affect and by 30% ten years after the shock. Such long-lasting results paint a grim image on condition that Ukraine is a significant producer and exporter of agricultural items, and its manufacturing sector is properly built-in into worldwide provide chains.

Determine 1 Affect of battle on GDP and its elements

Sources: IMF, World Financial Outlook; World Financial institution, World Growth Indicators; and authors’ calculations.
Word: The evaluation contains 37 main battle episodes in a pattern of 188 international locations over 1989-2018. Battle onset is outlined because the yr when not less than 100 folks had been killed per 1 million inhabitants following not less than 4 years of no battle within the previous interval. Estimates are primarily based on native projections and present the affect of battle onset on GDP per capita and different indicators within the yr of battle onset (0 on the x-axis), the yr following battle onset (+1 on the x-axis), and so on. Dashed strains point out 95% confidence intervals.

Affect of battle on the variety of refugees

With 5.8 million Ukrainians registered as refugees by July 2022 (UNHCR 2022), the unfolding struggle in Ukraine has no precedent in latest historical past by way of the variety of refugees at first of battle (Determine 2a).3 Partly it’s because Ukraine, with a pre-war inhabitants of over 40 million folks, is among the many 40 most populous international locations on this planet. However by way of the variety of refugees as a share of pre-war inhabitants, the scenario in Ukraine does resemble that of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the place near 10% of the inhabitants fled within the first yr of battle, roughly doubling over the subsequent 4 years (Determine 2b). The struggle in Ukraine and the Yugoslav wars are additionally the one two conflicts throughout the European continent since WWII. If the Ukrainian refugee scenario develops as in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the full variety of refugees from Ukraine may attain as much as ten million folks, a possible scenario for which the remainder of the world should be ready.

Determine 2 Variety of refugees by nation

Sources: UNHCR; and authors’ calculations.
Word: Quantity of refugees for Ukraine is as of July 13, 2022.

historic knowledge, battle onset typically induces vital refugee outflows to neighbouring non-advanced international locations within the quick run (given the placement of most conflict-affected international locations), and sometimes small however very persistent refugee outflows to non-neighbouring superior international locations over the long term. After a big inflow of refugees following battle onset, the cumulative progress of the variety of refugees to neighbouring international locations is 2.8% relative to the pre-conflict degree and stays largely secure over time (Determine 3a). Because of this refugees sometimes come to neighbouring international locations throughout the first yr of battle, and sometimes keep for 5 years or extra after. refugees in superior economies, the expansion is extraordinarily persistent and continues even 5 years after battle onset (Determine 3b). For Ukraine, the superior economies of Europe are geographically nearer, with many family and friends already working there and able to assist. On this context, Bosnia is probably going the closest historic comparator to Ukraine.

Determine 3 Affect of battle on the variety of refugees

Sources: UNHCR; and authors’ calculations.
Word: X-axis exhibits years, with -1 referring to the yr earlier than battle onset, 0 the yr of battle begin, +1 the yr following the battle, and so on. Dashed strains point out 95% confidence intervals.


With the prospect of such massive refugee flows, European international locations will want complete long-term insurance policies for the combination of refugees into the native labour markets, in addition to assist for households with kids and the aged (Angrist et al. 2022, Becker 2022, Blinov and Djankov 2022). The post-conflict reconstruction typically required insurance policies completely different from these used for stabilisation after different extreme financial shocks equivalent to a banking or forex disaster. Chami et al. (2021) and United Nations and World Financial institution (2018) talk about methods to regulate macroeconomic stabilisation insurance policies to fulfill the particular challenges going through particular person fragile and conflict-affected states. These concentrate on strengthening governance, rebuilding belief in establishments, rebuilding tax capability to mobilise revenues, and offering a completely functioning formal economic system. Worldwide organisations such because the Worldwide Financial Fund, in addition to European companions, have an necessary position to play, as outlined within the potential blueprint for Ukraine’s reconstruction in Becker et al. (2022). With Ukraine’s excessive degree of human capital and assist from the worldwide neighborhood there’s hope {that a} swift reconstruction and restoration is feasible.

Authors’ word: The views expressed herein are these of the authors and shouldn’t be attributed to the IMF, its Govt Board, or its administration.


Angrist, N, S Djankov, P Goldberg and H Patrinos (2022), “The Lack of Human Capital in Ukraine”,, 27 April.

Becker, S O (2022), “Classes from Historical past for our Response to Ukrainian Refugees”,, 29 March.

Becker, T, B Eichengreen, Y Gorodnichenko, S Guriev, S Johnson, T Mylovanov, Ok Rogoff and B Weder di Mauro (2022), “A Blueprint for the Reconstruction of Ukraine”,, 07 April.

Blinov, O and S Djankov (2022), “Ukraine’s Deepening Inhabitants Problem”,, 28 June.

Chami, R, R Espinoza and P Montiel (2021), Macroeconomic Coverage in Fragile States, Oxford College Press, United Kingdom.

Constantinescu, M, Ok Kappner and N Szumilo (2022), “Estimating the Quick-Time period Affect of Warfare on Financial Exercise in Ukraine”,, 21 June 2022.

Worldwide Financial Fund (2022), World Financial Outlook: Warfare Units Again the World Restoration, April.

Jordà, Ò (2005), “Estimation and Inference of Impulse Responses by Native Projections”, American Financial Overview 95(1): 161–182.

Mueller, H (2016), “Progress and Violence: Argument for a Per Capita Measure of Civil Warfare”, Economica 83: 473–497.

Novta, N and E Pugacheva (2021), “The Macroeconomic Prices of Battle”, Journal of Macroeconomics 68.

Sundberg, R and E Melander (2013), “Introducing the UCDP Georeferenced Occasion Dataset”, Journal of Peace Analysis 50(4): 523-532.

United Nations and World Financial institution (2018), “Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Stopping Violent Battle”, World Financial institution, Washington, DC.

United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (2022), “Operational Information Portal: Ukraine Refugee State of affairs”, Accessed 13 July 2022.


1 We outline battle onset primarily based on the share of inhabitants killed, as in Mueller (2016). We concentrate on conflicts through which 100 folks had been killed per a million inhabitants within the first yr of battle, which is outlined if there was no battle within the previous 4 years. Our evaluation signifies that the impact of battle tends to be underestimated if the extra commonplace definition of 1,000 deaths is used to outline a battle episode. If a number of distinct conflicts had been taking place within the nation in the identical yr, we add the numbers to have a single country-year commentary. Over the interval 1989-2018 our pattern contains 37 such episodes. Information on the variety of fatalities are from the Uppsala Battle Information Program (UCDP) Georeferenced Occasion Dataset (Sundberg and Melander 2013).

2 When utilizing actual GDP per capita we make use of inhabitants knowledge from the identical yr because the GDP knowledge.  

3 We concentrate on the variety of refugees reported by the UNHCR. Many extra folks have been internally displaced or are registered as asylum seekers.



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