Insuring Against Hunger? Long-Term Political Consequences of Exposures to the Dutch Famine

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Malnutrition is one of the greatest global challenges affecting more than 900 million individuals in developing and developed countries across the world. While previous studies have established that malnutrition has serious and lasting negative consequences on individuals’ health, education, and labor market outcomes, very little is known about its effects on individuals’ political views later in life. This study represents an initial effort to investigate the long-term political consequences of in-utero exposure to malnutrition on demands for social insurance and voting for redistributive parties. To this end, we leverage the Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944/1945 as a natural experiment given its severity, suddenness, and clear temporal and spatial boundaries. We link rich administrative data to present-day public opinion data from the Netherlands. Using a difference-in-differences framework, we find that famine exposure increases support for the Left and demand for private insurance later in life.