The Impact of Natural Disasters on Child Health and Early Childhood Health Investments in India

Ashlesha Datar, RAND Corporation
Sebastian Linnemayr, RAND Corporation
Jenny Liu, RAND Corporation
Chad Stecher, University of California, Los Angeles

Natural disasters can have long-term effects on child health. By destroying, damaging or straining health infrastructure, they might affect critical health investments in childhood, such as immunizations and prenatal care, which might make them vulnerable to otherwise preventable diseases. Furthermore, shocks to household income from loss of property and lives could affect health investments in children. In this paper, we estimate the impact of natural disasters on childhood morbidity, physical growth, and early-life health investments by combining household data from three waves of the Indian National Family and Health Survey (NFHS, 1992-93, 1998-99, 2005-06) with an international natural disaster database containing detailed information on the date, location, death toll and other details for a variety of natural disasters. Using models with area and time fixed effects, we find that exposure to natural disasters is associated with significantly higher childhood morbidity, stuntedness and wastedness, and significantly lower likelihood of immunizations.

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Presented in Session 103: Environmental Impacts on Health and Mortality