Natural Hazards and Child Health

Claus C. Pörtner, University of Washington

This paper examines how the occurrence of various natural disasters affects the health status of children using data from Guatemala. Despite a large literature on child health there is relatively little work on how shocks from natural hazards affect the health of children and with climate change it is likely that more and more households will experience changes and possible increases in the risk of natural disasters. Using three rounds of DHS data combined with a long time series on hazards the paper controls for both time and area specific effects, while pinpointing when and where a particular shock occurred. This is done for children from birth to 59 months at the time of the survey. Child health is proxied by height for age and weight for height and direct information on recent symptoms of illness. The effect of shocks from these hazards is generally negative and often very large.

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Presented in Session 57: Environmental Impacts on Population Dynamics and Health