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Under the Weather: Health, Schooling, and Economic Consequences of Early-Life Rainfall

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  • Sharon L. Maccini
  • Dean Yang

Abstract

How sensitive is long-run individual well-being to environmental conditions early in life? This paper examines the effect of weather conditions around the time of birth on the health, education, and socioeconomic outcomes of Indonesian adults born between 1953 and 1974. We link historical rainfall for each individual's birth-year and birth-location with current adult outcomes from the 2000 wave of the Indonesia Family Life Survey. Higher early-life rainfall has large positive effects on the adult outcomes of women, but not of men. Women with 20% higher rainfall (relative to normal local rainfall) in their year and location of birth are 3.8 percentage points less likely to self-report poor or very poor health, attain 0.57 centimeters greater height, complete 0.22 more grades of schooling, and live in households that score 0.12 standard deviations higher on an asset index. These patterns most plausibly reflect a positive impact of rainfall on agricultural output, leading to higher household incomes and food availability and better health for infant girls. We present suggestive evidence that eventual benefits for adult women's socioeconomic status are most strongly mediated by improved schooling attainment, which in turn improves socioeconomic status in adulthood.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14031
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics

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