Child schooling, child health and rainfall shocks: evidence from rural Vietnam
We study the effect of early life conditions, proxied by rainfall shocks, on schooling and height in rural Vietnam. Our measure of rainfall shock is defined as deviations from the long-run average. Many Vietnamese rural dwellers engage in rain-fed crop production, mostly irrigated paddy rice. Sufficient annual rainfall could play an important role in the harvest and thus, the household income. Nutritional deficiencies resulting from the household's income shocks may have negative consequences on health. We find that a negative rainfall shock during gestation delays school entry and slows progress through school. In addition, a negative rainfall shock in the third year of life affects adversely both schooling and height. The effects differ by region in ways that reflect differing constraints on families that are shaped by regional economic heterogeneity. We predict that policies that help rural families smooth income shocks will result in increases in human capital and in substantial cumulative returns in productivity over the life course.
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