Persistent effects of natural disasters on human development: quasi-experimental evidence for Argentina
GONZÁLEZ, FERNANDO ANTONIO IGNACIO; SANTOS, MARIA EMMA; LONDON, SILVIA
ENVIRONMENT, DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY
This paper evaluates whether exposure to natural disasters very early in the life of a person has persistent effects on her human development outcomes in the case of Argentina. Using the microdata of the 2010 National Census of Population and the Disaster Inventory System?s (DesInventar) records of the occurrence of natural disasters, we estimate a differences in differences model, exploiting geographical variation (between districts of Argentina) and temporal variation (between birth cohorts) in the occurrence of natural disasters. Fixed effects are considered by cohorts and districts, as well as control variables. We find that exposure to natural disasters during the first year of life significantly reduces the number of years of schooling achieved in 0.03 years and increases the chances of being unemployed when adult. Importantly, we find that the personal experience of a natural disaster goes beyond individual outcomes, increasing the chances of living in a multidimensionally poor household when adult. Exposure to natural disasters during gestation also has significant detrimental impact on these outcomes. In the context of climate change, in which an increase in the frequency and severity in the occurrence of natural disasters is expected, our results are a call of attention, indicating that it is of outmost importance to design and implement public policies towards increasing the country?s preparedness and resilience to natural disasters.