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The impact of early life shocks on human capital formation: evidence from El Niño floods in Ecuador

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  • Rosales-Rueda, Maria

Abstract

This paper investigates the persistent effects of negative shocks in utero and in infancy on low-income children's health and cognitive outcomes and examines whether timing of exposure matters differentially by skill type. Specifically, I exploit the geographic intensity of extreme floods in Ecuador during the 1997–1998 El Niño phenomenon, which provides exogenous variation in exposure at different periods of early development. I show that children exposed to severe floods in utero, especially during the third trimester, are shorter in stature five and seven years later. Also, children affected by the floods in the first trimester of pregnancy score lower on cognitive tests. Additionally, I explore potential mechanisms by studying health at birth and family inputs (income, consumption, and breastfeeding). I find that children exposed to El Niño floods, especially during the third trimester in utero, were more likely to be born with low birth weight. Furthermore, households affected by El Niño suffered a decline in income, total consumption, and food consumption in the aftermath of the shock. Falsification exercises and robustness checks suggest that selection concerns such as selective fertility, mobility, and infant mortality do not drive these results.

Suggested Citation

  • Rosales-Rueda, Maria, 2018. "The impact of early life shocks on human capital formation: evidence from El Niño floods in Ecuador," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 13-44.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:62:y:2018:i:c:p:13-44
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2018.07.003
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    4. Pham, Trinh, 2021. "Adverse Rainfall Shocks and Child Outcomes: Evidence from Rural Vietnam," 2021 Annual Meeting, August 1-3, Austin, Texas 314051, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    5. Richard Akresh & German Daniel Caruso & Harsha Thirumurthy, 2014. "Medium-Term Health Impacts of Shocks Experienced In Utero and After Birth: Evidence from Detailed Geographic Information on War Exposure," NBER Working Papers 20763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Seyed Mohammad Karimi, 2018. "Pre – Birth Exposure to Ramadan, Height, and the Length of Gastation," Working Papers 1236, Economic Research Forum, revised 10 Oct 2018.
    7. Soazic Elise Wang Sonne & Paolo Verme, 2019. "Intergenerational Impact of Population Shocks on Children’s Health: Evidence from the 1993-2001 Refugee Crisis in Tanzania," HiCN Working Papers 319, Households in Conflict Network.
    8. Herrera Almanza, Catalina & Cas, Ava, 2017. "Resilience to Shocks during Adolescence and Later Human Capital Outcomes: Evidence from Natural Disasters in the Philippines," 2017 Annual Meeting, July 30-August 1, Chicago, Illinois 259129, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    9. Eva O. Arceo-Gómez & Danae Hernández-Cortés & Alejandro López-Feldman, 2020. "Droughts and rural households’ wellbeing: evidence from Mexico," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 162(3), pages 1197-1212, October.
    10. Sajid, Osama & Bevis, Leah E.M., 2021. "Flooding and child health: Evidence from Pakistan," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 146(C).
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    14. Awaworyi Churchill, Sefa & Munyanyi, Musharavati Ephraim & Smyth, Russell & Trinh, Trong-Anh, 2021. "Early life shocks and entrepreneurship: Evidence from the Vietnam War," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 506-518.
    15. Ray, Mukesh K. & Maredia, Mywish K., 2018. "Legume Technologies as a Sustainable Solution to Climatic Shocks: Evidence from Malawi," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 273873, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
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    18. Duque, Valentina & Rosales-Rueda, Maria & Sanchez, Fabio, 2019. "How Do Early-Life Shocks Interact with Subsequent Human Capital Investments? Evidence from Administrative Data," Working Papers 2019-17, University of Sydney, School of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Early-life shocks; Human capital formation; Health at birth; Family inputs;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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