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Water scarcity and birth outcomes in the Brazilian semiarid

Listed author(s):
  • Rocha, Rudi
  • Soares, Rodrigo R.

Roughly one-third of the rural population in developing countries lives in arid and semiarid regions, facing recurrent water scarcity. This is likely to become an even more common situation with climate change. This paper analyzes the impact of rainfall fluctuations during the gestational period on health at birth in the Brazilian semiarid, highlighting the role of water scarcity as a determinant of early life health. We find that negative rainfall shocks are robustly correlated with higher infant mortality, lower birth weight, and shorter gestation periods. Mortality effects are concentrated on intestinal infections and malnutrition, and are greatly minimized when the local public health infrastructure is sufficiently developed (municipality coverage of piped water and sanitation). We also find that effects are stronger during the fetal period (2nd trimester of gestation), for children born during the dry season, and for mortality immediately after birth. Our estimates suggest that expansions in public health infrastructure would be a cost-effective way of reducing the response of infant mortality to rainfall scarcity.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304387814001096
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 112 (2015)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 72-91

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:112:y:2015:i:c:p:72-91
DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2014.10.003
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

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  1. Carlos Bozzoli & Angus Deaton & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2009. "Adult height and childhood disease," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 46(4), pages 647-669, November.
  2. Skoufias, Emmanuel & Vinha, Katja & Conroy, Hector V., 2011. "The impacts of climate variability on welfare in rural Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5555, The World Bank.
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  5. Sharon Maccini & Dean Yang, 2009. "Under the Weather: Health, Schooling, and Economic Consequences of Early-Life Rainfall," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 1006-1026, June.
  6. Janet Currie, 2009. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 87-122, March.
  7. Glewwe, Paul & Miguel, Edward A., 2008. "The Impact of Child Health and Nutrition on Education in Less Developed Countries," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
  8. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Olivier Deschênes & Enrico Moretti, 2009. "Extreme Weather Events, Mortality, and Migration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(4), pages 659-681, November.
  10. Gørgens, Tue & Meng, Xin & Vaithianathan, Rhema, 2012. "Stunting and selection effects of famine: A case study of the Great Chinese Famine," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 99-111.
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  12. Kudamatsu, Masayuki & Persson, Torsten & Strömberg, David, 2012. "Weather and Infant Mortality in Africa," CEPR Discussion Papers 9222, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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