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Behavioural response to a sudden health risk: Dengue and educational outcomes in Colombia

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  • Barron, Kai
  • Gamboa, Luis F.
  • Rodriguez-Lesmes, Paul

Abstract

Epidemics tend to have a debilitating influence on the lives of directly afflicted families. However, the presence of an epidemic can also change the behaviour and outcomes of those not directly affected. This paper makes use of a short, sharp, unexpected epidemic to examine the behavioural response of the general public to a sudden shift in the perceived risk to an individual's health and mortality. Our analysis finds that unafflicted school students change their behaviour substantially, affecting important life outcomes. In particular, we find that close to 4 fewer students, out of a typical class of 47 pupils, sit their school leaving examination for every additional 10 cases of severe Dengue per 10 000 inhabitants in a municipality. We rule out several possible mechanisms, leaving an increase in the salience of the disease's risks as a plausible explanation for our findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Barron, Kai & Gamboa, Luis F. & Rodriguez-Lesmes, Paul, 2017. "Behavioural response to a sudden health risk: Dengue and educational outcomes in Colombia," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2017-306, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbeoc:spii2017306
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    Keywords

    Health; health risks; education; human capital; Dengue; Colombia;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General

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