Economic activities cause changes in the environment that can damage health and human capital development. This paper examines fetal and early-life exposures to environmental contamination in the developing world and the effects on height, a long-term marker of both health and human capital. The context of the study is Metropolitan Cebu, Philippines. Combined with a longitudinal survey, unique data is collected to characterize the sources of pollution and the transport of contaminants from the source to the individual. The health and human capital effects of multiple exposures to a variety of polluters are examined using spatial and temporal variation generated by topographic, meteorologic and infrastructure influences in the transport of the contaminant. Accounting for compensating behaviors in the health production function, findings indicate moderate, negative effects of combined exposures. The magnitude of damages resulting from early-life exposures diminish with age while remaining significant in adulthood. Compensating investments by parents are shown to be generally effective in reducing the impacts of environmental exposures.
Are Rural Markets Complete? Prices, Profits and Recursion with Daniel LaFave and Duncan Thomas
The agricultural household model under complete markets allows the simultaneous production and consumption decisions faced by farm households to be modeled recursively. To assess the validity of the recursive framework, a number of papers have tested if production may be treated independently from consumption, and find mixed results. This paper empirically assesses a previously unexamined restriction of complete markets on consumption choices rather than production. Recursion implies production and consumption are linked only through an income effect from the farm business. When this condition holds, the prices of farm inputs affect consumption demands solely through a farm-profit income effect. This implies a restriction on how farm input prices relate to consumption allocations that we test using new, detailed longitudinal data from Indonesia. The data includes transaction prices for farm inputs and consumption goods collected in local shops and markets over a six-year period that we use in estimating a flexible household demand system while accounting for time invariant household and farm heterogeneity. We find strong evidence to reject complete markets, providing complementary evidence to previous findings in the literature examining separation from only the production side. We further show that those households at the bottom of the socioeconomic status distribution face market incompleteness, while those at the top are able to operate as if markets are complete.
Decision-Making by Households with V. Joseph Hotz and Duncan Thomas
This paper investigates the validity of the unitary and collective models in describing household behavior in Central Java, Indonesia. The conclusions of utility theory apply to individuals yet many empirical studies apply them to households. In developing countries, where it is common to find many adults living under the same roof or extended families living in close proximity, describing the behavior of households becomes more complex. The results support the use of the unitary model in describing single adult households while rejecting its use for multiple adult homes. Furthermore, there is little evidence that allocations made by households composed of couples with and without children are Pareto efficient, as assumed in the collective model.
Estimating the Strength, Consistency, and Nature of the Relationship between Children’s Height-for-Age and Early Development: A Multi-Country Analysis with Dana C. McCoy, Günther Fink, Wafaie Fawzi and others
The first five years of life are critical for children’s development of foundational cognitive, motor, and socioemotional skills, yet estimates suggest that 200 million children under the age of five are failing to meet their developmental potential globally due to constraints of poverty, disease, and insufficient care. The absence of high-quality data has forced previous research to rely on physical growth as a representation of various dimensions of human capital despite little empirical support. The present study provides evidence on the strength, consistency, and nature of the relationship between physical growth and early child development in a sample of more than 45,000 three to five year-old children living in 16 developing countries. Testing the degree to which height-for-age proxies human capital at both the country and individual level, the results support the use of growth as a proxy for overall child development while also suggesting that particular dimensions such as socio-emotional and behavioral skills are inadequately described by physical growth.
Examining the Health Consequences of Simultaneous Exposures to Pollution and Elevated Stress
Animal studies have revealed developmental delays due to the simultaneous exposures of environmental toxins and elevated stress in utero. This paper examines the health impacts throughout life of simultaneous fetal exposures to elevated stress and environmental contamination in the developing world. To examine development this study employs a long-running health and nutrition survey containing a variety of physical and cognitive development indicators in Metropolitan Cebu, Philippines. Additionally, unique data characterizing the local sources of pollution and the transport of pollutants from the source to the individual is used to describe exposures to multiple environmental toxins with spatial and temporal variation generated by influences on the transport of the contaminant. Finally, records of local natural disasters, namely typhoons, produce variation in maternal stress levels.
Returns to Schooling: A Meta-Analysis with Günther Fink
The economic return to an additional year of schooling is one of the most widely studied topics in the field of economics. A wide variety of methods, data, and contexts have been used to explore this question with often vastly different results. The objective of this study is to systematically review the existing evidence from this large and rapidly growing literature aiming to identify the causal effect of schooling on labor market outcomes.