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2021 Honors Thesis: Danielle Handel


Danielle Handel

Title of Thesis:

The Effects of Natural Disasters on Infant Health: Evidence from India


Krzysztof Karbownik, Frank Lechner (Sociology), Victoria Powers (Mathematics)


Given the rising frequency and intensity of natural disasters across the globe and particularly in developing nations, it is vital to understand the effect of climate on the health of future generations. I explore the effects of in utero exposure to tropical cyclones on birth outcomes in India by using spatial storm track data and representative demographic and health survey data. Difference-in-differences estimates indicate that exposure significantly increases neonatal and infant mortality rates, while the effect on birth weight is less clear. Heterogeneity analysis reveals that the negative consequences are most severe for those living in rural regions, evidencing the need for improved access to healthcare and stable infrastructure in India's rural areas. I highlight a combination of acute maternal stress and temporary shocks to healthcare services and infrastructure as plausible mechanisms.

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