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Water Scarcity and Birth Outcomes in the Brazilian Semiarid

  • Rocha, Rudi

    ()

    (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (IE-UFRJ))

  • Soares, Rodrigo R.

    ()

    (Sao Paulo School of Economics)

This paper analyzes the impact of rainfall fluctuations during the gestational period on health at birth. We concentrate on the semiarid region of Northeastern Brazil to highlight 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 in the first 6 months of life. The results seem to be driven by water scarcity per se, and not by reduced agricultural production. Our estimates suggest that expansions in public health infrastructure would be a cost-effective way of reducing the response of infant mortality to rainfall shocks in the Brazilian semiarid.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6773.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Development Economics, 2015, 112, 72–91
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6773
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  1. 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 1006-26, June.
  2. Janet Currie, 2008. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," NBER Working Papers 13987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. W. Kip Viscusi & Joseph E. Aldy, 2003. "The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," NBER Working Papers 9487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Olivier Deschenes & Michael Greenstone & Jonathan Guryan, 2009. "Climate Change and Birth Weight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 211-17, May.
  5. Carlos Bozzoli & Angus Deaton & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2008. "Adult height and childhood disease," Working Papers 1119, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  6. Ggens, Tue & Meng, Xin & Vaithianathan, Rhema, 2010. "Stunting and Selection Effects of Famine: A Case Study of the Great Chinese Famine," PRIMCED Discussion Paper Series 2, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  7. Olivier Desch�nes & Enrico Moretti, 2009. "Extreme Weather Events, Mortality, and Migration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(4), pages 659-681, November.
  8. 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.
  9. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. 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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