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Mitigating Long-run Health Effects of Drought: Evidence from South Africa

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  • Taryn Dinkelman

Abstract

Drought is Africa's primary natural disaster and a pervasive source of income risk for poor households. This paper documents the long-run health effects of early life exposure to drought and investigates an important source of heterogeneity in these effects. Combining birth cohort variation in South African Census data with cross-sectional and temporal drought variation, I estimate long-run health impacts of drought exposure among Africans confined to homelands during apartheid. Drought exposure in early childhood significantly raises later life male disability rates by 4% and reduces cohort size. Among a subset of homelands - the TBVC areas - disability effects are double and negative cohort effects are significantly larger. I show that differences in spatial mobility restrictions that influence the extent of migrant networks across TBVC and non-TBVC areas contribute to this heterogeneity. Placebo checks show no differential disability impacts of drought exposure across TBVC and non-TBVC areas after the repeal of migration restrictions. The results show that although drought has significant long-run effects on health human capital, migrant networks in poor economies provide one channel through which families mitigate these negative impacts of local environmental shock.

Suggested Citation

  • Taryn Dinkelman, 2013. "Mitigating Long-run Health Effects of Drought: Evidence from South Africa," NBER Working Papers 19756, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19756
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    Cited by:

    1. Martine Mariotti & Johan Fourie, 2014. "The economics of apartheid: An introduction," Economic History of Developing Regions, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(2), pages 113-125, December.
    2. Janet Currie & Hannes Schwandt, 2016. "The 9/11 Dust Cloud and Pregnancy Outcomes: A Reconsideration," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(4), pages 805-805-831.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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