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Rainfall shocks, parental behavior and breastfeeding: evidence from rural Vietnam

  • Thuan Q. Thai

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Mikko Myrskylä

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

Registered author(s):

    In developing countries, rainfall shocks around the time of birth have been shown decrease later health. The mechanism is unknown, but could run through income shocks, disease exposure, or increasing opportunity cost of parental time which influences parenting behavior. We use the Vietnam Demographic Health Surveys to study how rainfall shocks around the birth year influence a key dimension of parental behavior, breastfeeding. Consistent with the opportunity cost of time theory, rainfall reduces breastfeeding: 25% excess rainfall in the birth year decreases the proportion that is breastfed more than a year by 11 percentage points. The effect is particularly strong among farming families, for whom rainfall increases the opportunity cost of time through labor demand. These results are the first to shed light on the mechanism linking rainfall shocks and child health. Policy aiming to improve child health through breastfeeding should focus on the impact of labor demand on breastfeeding.

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    File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/papers/working/wp-2012-009.pdf
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    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2012-009.

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    Length: 33 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2012-009
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

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    1. Bhalotra, Sonia, 2010. "Fatal fluctuations? Cyclicality in infant mortality in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 7-19, September.
    2. Sharon L. Maccini & Dean Yang, 2008. "Under the Weather: Health, Schooling, and Economic Consequences of Early-Life Rainfall," NBER Working Papers 14031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Hoddinott, John & Kinsey, Bill, 2001. " Child Growth in the Time of Drought," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 63(4), pages 409-36, September.
    4. Paxson, Christina H, 1992. "Using Weather Variability to Estimate the Response of Savings to Transitory Income in Thailand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 15-33, March.
    5. Carlos Bozzoli & Angus Deaton & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2009. "Adult height and childhood disease," Demography, Springer, vol. 46(4), pages 647-669, November.
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    7. Grant Miller & B. Piedad Urdinola, 2010. "Cyclicality, Mortality, and the Value of Time: The Case of Coffee Price Fluctuations and Child Survival in Colombia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(1), pages 113-155, 02.
    8. Pinka Chatterji & Kevin Frick, 2005. "Does Returning to Work After Childbirth Affect Breastfeeding Practices?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 315-335, 09.
    9. HwaJung Choi, 2007. "Are Remittances Insurance? Evidence from Rainfall Shocks in the Philippines," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 21(2), pages 219-248, May.
    10. Baker, Michael & Milligan, Kevin, 2008. "Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: Evidence from maternity leave mandates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 871-887, July.
    11. In Utero, 2006. "Is the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Over? Long-Term Effects of In Utero Influenza Exposure in the Post-1940 U.S. Population," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 672-712, August.
    12. Skoufias, Emmanuel & Vinha, Katja, 2012. "Climate variability and child height in rural Mexico," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 54-73.
    13. Brian Roe & Leslie Whittington & Sara Fein & Mario Teisl, 1999. "Is there competition between breast-feeding and maternal employment?," Demography, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 157-171, May.
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