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Can we mitigate the effect of natural disasters on child health? Evidence from the Indian Ocean tsunami in Indonesia

Aurélia Lépine, Maria Restuccio and Eric Strobl

Health Economics, 2021, vol. 30, issue 2, 432-452

Abstract: The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was an international natural disaster unlike any seen before, killing 166,561 people in Aceh province, Indonesia. It prompted an unprecedented humanitarian response and was a catalyst in ending almost 30 years of civil conflict in Aceh. Since the tsunami was followed by a multitude of events, we first conduct a systematic review to identify those events in Indonesia. We then use a synthetic control method to estimate the combination of those effects on child mortality indicators in Aceh for the 13 years that followed the disaster using data from 258,918 children born between 1990 and 2017. The results show a significant increase in under‐5 mortality only the year after the tsunami and no effect in the medium term. However, younger and older children were affected differently in the medium term. In fact, we show a decrease in child mortality among children aged 1–4 years. In contrast, we observe an increase in mortality among children under‐1 in 2009 and 2010. Overall, the resilience of Aceh province points to the importance of coordinated international disaster responses after natural disasters.

Date: 2021
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