A mother and son in Pisac, Peru, where health-spending cuts have contributed to a 13% rise in infant mortality. Photo: Sergi Reboredo/VW PICS/UIG via Getty Images

Recent terrorist attacks in Kashmir, North Sinai and Bogotá have put their respective government’s security policies under the microscope.

The big picture: In the wake of such attacks, there are strong political incentives to reassure the public with highly visible, forceful measures. In developing countries, however, beefing up security often comes at the steep cost of spending cuts to social welfare programs.

Background: Although terrorism in Western countries receives extensive media attention, the vast majority of attacks occur in poor countries that struggle to pay for national security. These locales often also have fragile social service systems that can worsen quickly after funding cuts.

  • For each Peruvian soldier killed by the resurgent "Shining Path" rebels, more than 70 infants die in subsequent years due to resulting cuts in health spending — contributing to an estimated 13% increase in Peru's infant mortality rate.
  • In Iraq, infant mortality more than doubled after severe health budget cuts related to war, terrorism and sanctions.

Between the lines: Deteriorating social welfare in countries strained by conflict can exacerbate a downward spiral: Social cuts weaken economic growth and drive a loss of confidence in government, which reduces political stability and leaves marginalized communities susceptible to anti-government recruitment.

Filling the welfare gap in these countries yields large dividends. More investment by international donors and the private sector could enable countries to maintain health and education services in the face of conflict.

  • Yes, but: If poor governments expect that the U.S. and other big donors may fill their coffers after terrorist attacks, it could create perverse incentives. The global community would have to find an approach that both helps end conflicts and mitigates their impact in the meantime.

The bottom line: The media often focuses on the immediate effects of terrorism — especially sensational attacks with high casualty counts. But the indirect effects may be even greater, as poor communities face the long-term implications of disruptions in vital services.

Renard Sexton is a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University's Empirical Studies of Conflict Project. Rachel Wellhausen is an associate professor of government at the University of Texas, Austin. Mike Findley is a professor of government at the University of Texas, Austin.

Go deeper: Read the authors’ full study, with more analysis on Peru.

Go deeper

As boycott grows, Facebook juggles rights groups and advertisers

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As an advertiser boycott of Facebook over its tolerance of hate speech continues to snowball, the company has begun making small, incremental changes to mollify activists while it tries to buy time to evolve its content policies.

Driving the news: Sources tell Axios that the product and policy changes sought by the #StopHateForProfit campaign were long under discussion both inside Facebook and with some external groups. Meanwhile, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly told employees that the boycotting advertisers will be back before long.

Replacing the nursing home

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nursing homes have been the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, prompting more urgent discussions about alternative housing situations for elderly Americans.

Why it matters: Deaths in nursing homes and residential care facilities account for 45% of COVID-19 related deaths, per the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity — but there are few other viable housing options for seniors.

33 mins ago - Health

How Joe Biden would tackle the coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If Joe Biden wins in November, his coronavirus response would feature a no-expenses-spared federal approach to mitigating the virus and a beefed-up safety net for those suffering its economic consequences.

Why it matters: It’s nearly inevitable that the U.S. will still be dealing with the pandemic come January 2021, meaning voters in America will choose between two very different options for dealing with it.