Rainfall Shocks and Child Health: Evidence from Rural Vietnam

Thuan Thai, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Weather conditions, in particular rainfall shocks, during early development causally influence health. The mechanisms are unknown but could be related to income shocks, changes in the opportunity cost of parental time, and disease exposure. We study the rainfall shock-child health mechanism by using Vietnamese data and analyze how the effect depends on regional and individual characteristics. We explore the links between rainfall shocks, value of parental time, and parenting behaviors (antenatal care use, breastfeeding). We find that above average rainfall during the year of birth decreases the number of antenatal care visits. The effect of rainfall on breastfeeding is mixed with a positive effect in some regions and negative in others. The evidence tentatively suggests that increased transportation or opportunity costs during times of heavier rain are at least partially responsible for the rainfall shock-decreased child health mechanism.

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Presented in Poster Session 4