Hit by El Niño: Households’ Responses to Weather Shocks and Medium Term Effects on Children's Outcomes in Ecuador

Maria Rosales Rueda, University of Chicago

Approximately every 5-7 years, El Niño phenomenon hit the west coast in South America where it manifests in the form of extreme rainfall causing floods and landslides. This paper analyses the medium term effect of the 1997-98 Niño shock, the worst el Niño of the XX century, on children's outcomes in Ecuador. Exposure to El Niño phenomenon is identified using two sources of variation. First, the study exploits timing of birth variation since the sampled children were born between 1998-2002. Second, it relies on geographic variation on the exposure to the weather shock since the sample includes villages in the coast and in the highlands. Preliminary findings reveal that children who were less than age 1 and in utero during the shock performed worse in a cognitive test measured between 5 and 7 years after the disaster. Possible mechanisms are explored by studying households‘ responses after the shock in terms of consumption and investments in children.

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Presented in Session 193: Responses to Environmental Shocks