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Timing Matters: Prenatal Climate Shocks, Sex Ratio, and Human Capital

Landry Kuate (), Roland Pongou () and Nicholas Rivers
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Landry Kuate: Department of Economics, University of Ottawa
Roland Pongou: Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON

Working Papers from University of Ottawa, Department of Economics

Abstract: This paper offers new causal evidence on how the timing of prenatal temperature shocks affects fetal health, sex ratio at birth, and early-age human capital. Analyzing data on nearly 2 million live births from sub-Saharan African countries and exploiting exogenous spatial and temporal variation in monthly temperature, we uncover three findings. First, we find that a cold temperature shock decreases the likelihood of a male birth. This effect is non-linear, being larger in the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. It is also highly heterogeneous, being larger for older women, higher parity births, and rural areas. Second, combining our empirical estimates with a climate model, we find that the number of fetal deaths caused by climate change will rise from 200 to 400 per 100,000 live births by 2050 throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Third, in contrast to their differential effect on fetal mortality, prenatal temperature shocks increase infant mortality more for females than for males, suggesting that only healthier male fetuses survive to adverse in utero conditions. Our analysis implies that the design of policies to avert the negative impacts of climate change on children should account for stages of fetal development.

Keywords: Climate Change; Timing of Prenatal Temperature Shocks; Impact Heterogeneity; Fetal Mortality; Sex Ratio; Infant Mortality; Human Capital; Sub-Saharan Africa. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 49 pages
Date: 2021
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dev, nep-env and nep-hea
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