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Titre : ENSO and Mexican children: medium-term effects of early-life weather shocks on cognitive and health outcomes
Nom du conférencier : Marta VICARELLI
Son affiliation : Yale University
Laboratoire organisateur : LSCE
Date et heure : 26-01-2012 14h00
Lieu : LSCE-Orme des Merisiers, CEA Saclay, salle 17C
Résumé :

El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a recurrent climatic event that causes severe weather shocks with major socio-economic impacts, especially in developing countries. Besides immediate monetary losses, recurrent weather shocks may have long-term consequences. Indeed, negative impacts on child cognitive and physical development may compromise educational outcomes and generate persistent negative socio-economic consequences. There is an abundant literature on ENSO; however, to our knowledge, little is known about how ENSO-related weather shocks may affect human capital formation. This study attempts to start filling this gap.


We explore the effect of ENSO-related floods at the end of the agricultural season on early child development in rural Mexico. The analysis shows that, four to five years after the shock, children exposed to it during their early stages of 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 affected during their early life stages 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 affected by 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 affected by ENSO-related shocks.


The results of this paper can be used as a test bed for studying the effects of weather extremes related to future global climate change on health and human capital formation.