Impact of In Utero Exposure to Natural Shocks on Human Capital Formation
Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Hyatt Regency Chicago, Michigan 3
- Chair: Xiaobo Zhang, Peking University and International Food Policy Research Institute
Heat Waves at Conception and Later Life Outcomes
AbstractThis paper explores whether heat waves at conception, while in utero, or after birth cause better educational and health outcomes as adults. Using Census and DHS data from sub-Saharan Africa, we show that individuals conceived during heat waves have higher educational attainment and literacy, fewer disabilities, and lower child mortality. However, we find no effect of temperature at other times in utero. We then explore several channels through which this effect may occur, including heat-induced changes in sexual behavior, differences in parental characteristics, and intensified fetal selection. We show that fetal selection is the most likely mechanism driving our result.
Child Health After a Natural Disaster
AbstractResearch in health and economics suggest that in utero exposure to stress is related to a number of adverse birth outcomes, but there is little evidence of the impact on linear growth, a strong correlate of later life income. Using longitudinal survey data of survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, we investigate whether in utero exposure to stress, as measured by tsunami-induced maternal post-traumatic stress, affected the growth of children born in the aftermath of the tsunami in the critical first five years of their lives. We find evidence that children exposed to high levels of stress beginning in the second trimester experienced reduced growth in the first two years of their lives. We also find evidence that growth reductions largely disappear by age five, which suggests that significant catch-up growth is possible, particularly in the context of pronounced post-disaster reconstruction and economic rehabilitation.
Helping Children Catch Up: Early Life Shocks and the Progresa Experiment
AbstractCan investing in children who faced adverse events in early childhood help them catchup? We answer this question using two orthogonal sources of variation – resource avail-ability at birth (local rainfall) and cash incentives for school enrollment – to identify the interaction between early endowments and investments in children. We find that adverse rainfall in the year of birth substantially decreases grade attainment, post-secondary enrollment, and employment outcomes. But children whose families were randomized to receive conditional cash transfers through the Mexican government’s Progresa policy experiment experienced a smaller decline: each additional year of program exposure mitigated more than 20 percent of early disadvantage. Moreover, we show that Progresa’s impacts were heavily concentrated on children who faced poor birth environments; children born during normal rainfall periods essentially showed half the gains in education and no gains in employment due to the cash transfers.
Chih Ming Tan,
University of North Dakota
University of Michigan
University of Southern Florida
- J1 - Demographic Economics