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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

"El Nino and Mexican children: medium-term effects of early-life weather shocks on cognitive and health outcomes"

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 | 11:30 am
Marta Vicarelli Marta Vicarelli
Yale University
University of Massachusetts

El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a recurrent climatic event that causes severe weather shocks. This paper employs ENSO-related floods at the end of the agricultural season to identify medium-term effects of negative conditions in early child development (in utero and up to two years of age). The analysis shows that, four to five years after the shock, children exposed in early life have test scores in language development, working-memory, and visual-spatial thinking abilities that are 11 to 21 percent lower than same aged children not exposed to the shock. Negative effects are also found on anthropometric characteristics: children exposed in early life exhibit lower height (0.42 to 0.71 inches), higher likelihood of stunting (11 to 14 percentage points), and lower weight (0.84 pounds) than same aged children not exposed to the shock. Negative effects of weather shocks on income, food consumption, and diet composition during early childhood appear to be key mechanisms behind the impacts on children's outcomes. Finally, no mitigation effects were found from the provision of the Mexican conditional cash transfer program Progresa on poor rural households with children exposed to ENSO-related shocks.

If you are near Amherst, MA, please join us for this talk in Engineering Lab II, room 119 (Auditorium) on the UMass Amherst campus.