The effects of natural disasters on farm household income and expenditures: A study on rice farmers in Bangladesh
Although millions of households in the world depend on rice cultivation for income and employment, volatility in rice income and negative income shocks caused by crop failure stem from natural disasters, an almost regular phenomenon in rice farming in Asia and Africa. Income volatility may force households in developing countries to lower their expenditures on health and education, as the literature suggests. A drastic reduction in education and health expenditures due to negative income shocks can affect children’s health and education, and hence human capital formation in the long run, in developing countries. Using the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) data from the government of Bangladesh and applying the “difference-in-difference” estimation method in a natural experimental setting, this article reveals that in the face of a loss in income caused by a tropical cyclone that hit the coastal region in May 2009, cyclone-affected rice farmers spent less on their children’s education. This study suggests active intervention to ensure stable income to make schooling expenditures less elastic with rice income to ensure human capital development in agriculture-dependent countries in the long run.
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