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Live aid revisited: long-term impacts of the 1984 Ethiopian famine on children

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  • Dercon, Stefan
  • Porter, Catherine

Abstract

In 1984, the world was shocked at the scale of a famine in Ethiopia that caused over half a million deaths, making it one of the worst in recent history. The mortality impacts are clearly signi cant. But what of the survivors? This paper provides the first estimates the long-term impact of the famine twenty years later, on the height of young adults aged 19-22 years who experienced this severe shock as infants during the crisis. An innovative feature of the analysis is that famine intensity is measured at the household level, while impacts are assessed using a di fference-in-di fferences comparison across siblings, and compared with an IV cross-section, using rainfall as an instrument for the shock. We find that by adulthood, a ffected children who were aged of 12-36 months at the peak of the crisis are signi cantly shorter than the older cohort, and their una ffected peers, by at least 5cm. There are no signi ficant e ffects on those in utero during the crisis, and we cannot rule out that for this cohort, the selection e ffect dominates scarring. Indicative calculations show that for the aff ected group such height loss may lead to income losses of around 5% per year over their lifetime. The evidence also suggests that the relief operations at the time made little di fference.

Suggested Citation

  • Dercon, Stefan & Porter, Catherine, 2012. "Live aid revisited: long-term impacts of the 1984 Ethiopian famine on children," CEPR Discussion Papers 9033, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9033
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Harold Alderman & John Hoddinott & Bill Kinsey, 2006. "Long term consequences of early childhood malnutrition," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(3), pages 450-474, July.
    2. Neelsen, Sven & Stratmann, Thomas, 2011. "Effects of prenatal and early life malnutrition: Evidence from the Greek famine," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 479-488, May.
    3. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2007. "Making Famine History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 5-38.
    4. Deaton, Angus & Arora, Raksha, 2009. "Life at the top: The benefits of height," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 133-136, July.
    5. Bound, John & Solon, Gary, 1999. "Double trouble: on the value of twins-based estimation of the return to schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 169-182, April.
    6. repec:oup:revage:v:28:y:2006:i:3:p:296-304. is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Zhehui Luo & Ren Mu & Xiaobo Zhang, 2006. "Famine and Overweight in China," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 28(3), pages 296-304.
    8. Michael P. Murray, 2006. "Avoiding Invalid Instruments and Coping with Weak Instruments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 111-132, Fall.
    9. Chen, Yuyu & Zhou, Li-An, 2007. "The long-term health and economic consequences of the 1959-1961 famine in China," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 659-681, July.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ethiopia; Famine; Human Development;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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