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Parental Response to Early Human Capital Shocks: Evidence from the Chernobyl Accident

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  • Martin Halla
  • Martina Zweimüller

Abstract

Little is known about the response behavior of parents whose children are exposed to an early-life shock. In this paper we interpret the prenatal exposure of the Austrian 1986 cohort to radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl accident as a negative human capital shock and examine their parents’ response behavior. To identify causal effects we can rely on exogenous variation in the exposure to radioactive fallout (over time and) between communities due to geographic differences in precipitation at the time of the accident. We find robust empirical evidence of compensating investment behavior by parents in response to the shock. Families with low socioeconomic status reduced their family size, while families with higher socioeconomic status responded with reduced maternal labor supply. Compensating investment made by the latter group seems relatively more effective because we do not find any detrimental long-term effects for exposed children from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. In contrast, exposed children from low socioeconomic backgrounds have significantly worse labor market outcomes as young adults.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Halla & Martina Zweimüller, 2014. "Parental Response to Early Human Capital Shocks: Evidence from the Chernobyl Accident," Economics working papers 2014-02, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  • Handle: RePEc:jku:econwp:2014_02
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    Cited by:

    1. Mohammad Mainul Hoque & Elizabeth King & Claudio E. Montenegro & Peter F. Orazem, 2017. "Longevity and Lifetime Education: Global Evidence from 919 Surveys," Working Papers wp450, University of Chile, Department of Economics.
    2. Elsner, Benjamin & Wozny, Florian, 2018. "The Human Capital Cost of Radiation: Long-Run Evidence from Exposure Outside the Womb," IZA Discussion Papers 11408, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Danzer, Alexander M. & Danzer, Natalia, 2016. "The long-run consequences of Chernobyl: Evidence on subjective well-being, mental health and welfare," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 47-60.
    4. repec:eee:socmed:v:194:y:2017:i:c:p:76-86 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Prashant Bharadwaj & Matthew Gibson & Joshua Graff Zivin & Christopher Neilson, 2017. "Gray Matters: Fetal Pollution Exposure and Human Capital Formation," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 505-542.
    6. repec:eee:juecon:v:99:y:2017:i:c:p:148-160 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Damian Clarke & Hanna Mühlrad, 2016. "The Impact of Abortion Legalization on Fertility and Maternal Mortality: New Evidence from Mexico," CINCH Working Paper Series 1602, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health, revised Feb 2016.
    8. Brandon J. Restrepo, 2016. "Parental investment responses to a low birth weight outcome: who compensates and who reinforces?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(4), pages 969-989, October.
    9. KAWAGUCHI, Daiji & YUKUTAKE, Norifumi, 2014. "Estimating the Residential Land Damage of the Fukushima Accident," Discussion Papers 2014-18, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
    10. Jan Goebel & Christian Krekel & Tim Tiefenbach & Nicolas Ziebarth, 2015. "How natural disasters can affect environmental concerns, risk aversion, and even politics: evidence from Fukushima and three European countries," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(4), pages 1137-1180, October.
    11. Michael Grätz & Florencia Torche, 2016. "Compensation or Reinforcement? The Stratification of Parental Responses to Children’s Early Ability," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(6), pages 1883-1904, December.
    12. repec:spr:hecrev:v:7:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1186_s13561-017-0154-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Jan Goebel & Christian Krekel & Tim Tiefenbach & Nicholas R. Ziebarth, 2014. "Natural Disaster, Environmental Concerns, Well-Being and Policy Action," CINCH Working Paper Series 1405, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fetal origins; parental response; Chernobyl; radiation; health; culling; human capital; fertility; labor supply;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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