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Climatic conditions and child height: Sex-specific vulnerability and the protective effects of sanitation and food markets in Nepal

Author

Listed:
  • Steven A. Block
  • William A. Masters
  • Prajula Mulmi
  • Gerald E. Shively

Abstract

Environmental conditions in early life have known links to later health outcomes, but mechanisms and potential remedies have been difficult to discern. This paper uses the Nepal Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) of 2006-2011, combined with earlier NASA satellite observations of variation in vegetation density (NDVI) at each child's location and time of birth, to identify the trimesters of gestation and infancy during which climate variation can be linked to heights attained between 12 and 59 months of age. We find significant difference by sex of the fetus: males are most affected by conditions in their second trimester of gestation, and females in their first trimester after birth. Each 100 point difference in NDVI at those times is associated with a difference in height-for-age Z-score (HAZ) of 0.088 for boys and 0.054 for girls, an effect size that is similar to moving within the distribution of household wealth by one quintile for boys, and one decile for girls. The entire seasonal change in NDVI from peak to trough is on the order of 200-300 points, implying a seasonal effect of HAZ similar to 1-3 quintiles of household wealth. This effect is observed only in households without toilets; with toilets there is no seasonal fluctuation, implying protection against climatic changes in disease transmission. We also use data from the Nepal Living Standards Surveys on district-level agricultural production and marketing, and find a vegetation effect on child growth only in districts where households' food consumption comes primarily from own production. Robustness tests find no evidence of selection effects, and placebo regressions reveal no significant artefactual correlations. Our findings regarding timing and sex-specificity offer a novel population-scale confirmation of previous work, while the protective effect of sanitation and markets is a novel indication of the mechanisms by which households can gain resilience against adverse climatic conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven A. Block & William A. Masters & Prajula Mulmi & Gerald E. Shively, 2016. "Climatic conditions and child height: Sex-specific vulnerability and the protective effects of sanitation and food markets in Nepal," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0817, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  • Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0817
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    1. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:29:y:2018:i:c:p:76-87 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Derek Headey & David Stifel & Liangzhi You & Zhe Guo, 2018. "Remoteness, urbanization, and child nutrition in sub‐Saharan Africa," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 49(6), pages 765-775, November.
    3. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:79:y:2018:i:c:p:101-110 is not listed on IDEAS
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    5. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:29:y:2018:i:c:p:88-101 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Ruel, Marie T. & Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Balagamwala, Mysbah, 2017. "Nutrition-sensitive agriculture: What have we learned and where do we go from here?:," IFPRI discussion papers 1681, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    7. Agarwal, Neha & Aiyar, Anaka & Bhattacharjee, Arpita & Cummins, Joseph & Gunadi, Christian & Singhania, Deepak & Taylor, Matthew & Wigton-Jones, Evan, 2017. "Month of birth and child height in 40 countries," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 10-13.
    8. Otterbach, Steffen & Rogan, Michael, 2017. "Spatial Differences in Stunting and Household Agricultural Production in South Africa: (Re-)Examining the Links Using National Panel Survey Data," IZA Discussion Papers 11008, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. repec:eee:wdevel:v:99:y:2017:i:c:p:350-376 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Larsen, Anna Folke & Headey, Derek D. & Masters, William A., 2017. "Misreporting month of birth: Implications for nutrition research," IFPRI discussion papers 1617, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    11. Otterbach, Steffen & Rogan, Michael, 2017. "Spatial differences in stunting and household agricultural production in South African: (re-)examining the links using national panel survey data," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 13-2017, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.
    12. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:31:y:2018:i:c:p:125-137 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Sesonality; climate; health; agriculture; resilience;

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets

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