Children of Drought: Rainfall Shocks and Early Child Health in Rural India
Santosh Kumar, Sam Houston State University
Ramona Molitor, Universität Passau
Sebastian Vollmer, University of Göttingen
Barker's fetal origins hypothesis suggests a strong relationship between in utero conditions, health, and overall child development after birth. Using a nationally representative population survey, this paper analyzes the impact of rainfall on early child health in rural India. We find that drought experienced in utero has detrimental effects on the nutritional status of children. Effects appear to be stronger for boys, low caste children, and children exposed to drought in the first trimester of the mother's pregnancy. Results are robust to alternative denitions of drought. Our estimates speculate that policies aimed at reducing vulnerability to negative rainfall shock may result into improved health and higher human capital accumulation in rain-dependent agrarian countries.