Discussion paper

DP14752 Country of Women? Repercussions of the Triple Alliance War in Paraguay

Skewed sex ratios often result from conflict, disease, and migration, yet their long term impact remains less understood. The War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870) in South America killed up to 70% of the Paraguayan male population. According to Paraguayan national lore, the skewed sex ratios resulting from the confliict are the cause of present-day low marriage rates, high rates of out-of-wedlock births and a
generally male chauvinist culture. We collate historical and modern data to test this conventional wisdom in the short and the long run. We examine both cross-border and within-country variation in child-rearing, education and labor force participation in Paraguay over a 150 year period. We find that more skewed post-war sex ratios are associated with higher out-of-wedlock births, more female-headed households, and better female educational outcomes, even after the first returned to normal. Cross-country comparisons suggest that Paraguayan women are less likely to be employed than those in neighboring districts in Argentina and Brazil, but that within Paraguay, they are more likely to be employed where the sex ratio shock was more severe. The impacts of the war persist into the present, and are seemingly unaffected by variation in economic openness, uncertainty, or traditional norms.


Alix-Garcia, J, L Schechter, F Valencia Caicedo and S Zhu (2020), ‘DP14752 Country of Women? Repercussions of the Triple Alliance War in Paraguay‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 14752. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp14752