NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Long Term Consequences of Famine on Survivors: Evidence from a Unique Natural Experiment using China's Great Famine

Xin Meng, Nancy Qian

NBER Working Paper No. 14917
Issued in April 2009, Revised in December 2011
NBER Program(s):   CH

This paper estimates the long run impact of famine on survivors in the context of China's Great Famine. To address problems of measurement error of famine exposure and potential endogeneity of famine intensity, we exploit a novel source of variation in regional intensity of famine derived from the unique institutional determinants of the Great Famine. To address attenuation bias caused by selection for survival, we estimate the impact on the upper quantiles of the distribution of outcomes. Our results indicate that in-utero and early childhood exposure to famine had large negative effects on adult height, weight, weight-for-height, educational attainment and labor supply.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14917

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