Climate shocks, coping responses and gender gap in human development

Kaleab Haile, Nyasha Tirivayi & Eleonora Nillesen


This study examines the impact of drought on child health and schooling outcomes and investigates the contemporaneous relationship between these two main building blocks of human capital. We merge childlevel longitudinal data from the Ethiopia Rural Socioeconomic Survey (ERSS) with geo-referenced climate data. Our findings from within-child variation estimators reveal that drought has a detrimental impact on the highest grade completed of female children. We show that the negative e ect of drought on a female child's completed years of formal schooling is channelled, albeit not entirely, through ill health. Our result is robust to using recursive bivariate estimation with exclusion restriction to correct for biases associated with the endogeneity of child health due to time-varying heterogeneities. Gender bias in the household explains why the direct and mediated schooling e ects of drought are concentrated only on female children. We find that households respond to drought-induced income shocks by decreasing the allocation of resources for the medical treatment of an ill female child. Moreover, households also increase the use of female child labour for non-agricultural activities, which is consistent with a disproportionate increase in school absenteeism of older girls during drought. We discuss how gender-responsive policy design and implementation may help alleviate gender inequality in human development in the face of climate change.

Keywords: Drought, coping capacity, human capital, gender bias, sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia

JEL Classification: D13, I31, J16, Q54

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