NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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

Taryn Dinkelman

NBER Working Paper No. 19756
Issued in December 2013
NBER Program(s):   CH   DEV   HE

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.

download in pdf format
   (310 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (310 K) or via email.

An online appendix is available for this publication.

Acknowledgments

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19756

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Athey and Stern w19755 The Nature and Incidence of Software Piracy: Evidence from Windows
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us