The Long Term Effects of Being Born in a Drought: Evidence from South Africa

Taryn Dinkelman, University of Michigan

This paper uses a difference-in-differences identification strategy to estimate the effects of negative early life environmental conditions on later life health and human capital outcomes. I use longitudinal data collected from young adults in the Cape Area Panel Study to provide more evidence that being born during a drought is detrimental for adult height and human capital. This adds to a growing empirical literature documenting these negative relationships across several countries. I also use detailed school calendar data to investigate whether these negative weather events operate to delay entry into school, slow down grade progression or result in more grade repetition. Preliminary work suggests that youth born during a drought accumulate fewer years of education and under-perform on tests of cognitive ability. They are also less 8-9% points less likely to be enrolled in school at the age of 6.

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Presented in Session 120: Child Health and Well-Being in Developing Countries