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Adverse Effects of Early Life Extreme Precipitation Shocks on Short‐term Health and Adulthood Welfare Outcomes

Review of Development Economics

Published online on


This paper examines the impact of exposure to early life rainfall shock on children's anthropometric growth status and other welfare outcomes. The study exploits World Bank repeated cross‐section household data on Malawi and exogenous variation in precipitation measures across localities to identify the impact of drought and flood shocks on health, schooling and satisfaction levels. Our main estimate for children's anthropometric growth reveals that an incidence of drought shock leads to a resultant average decrease of 15%, 17% and 43% in age‐standardized weight z‐scores for shocks experienced at in‐utero stage, first and second years respectively. Correspondingly, the relative impacts of an incidence of drought shock on age‐standardized height z‐scores are 14%, 15% and 27%. In contrast, the impacts of flood shock on each of these outcomes deteriorate over the outlined reference periods. On the adult dimension, we find that adults who face in‐utero drought shock are more likely to have greater school entry delays and be unhappy with their current economic situations. However, this adulthood result pertains to male adults in our sample.