Three essays on climate change and child welfare in sub-Saharan Africa

Okpala, Chifumnanya Ngozi (2022). Three essays on climate change and child welfare in sub-Saharan Africa. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis presents three empirical essays that examine important aspects of child development and investigates the role of climate change in putting millions of children at risk in disadvantaged regions and in thus shaping their overall welfare and development.

In the first essay, we examine the impact of extreme weather events arising from climate change (droughts) on child educational outcomes in Ethiopia. Overall, our findings from our child fixed-effect model points to the fact that children suffer greatly in terms of their educational outcomes when exposed to droughts. Our results also suggests that boys (in terms of their cognitive ability), younger children, and children from less educated households are the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of droughts on educational outcomes.

In the second essay, we combine satellite PM2.5 data with individual-level data to examine the impact of in-utero air pollution on child health outcomes in Ethiopia. Employing the instrumental variable regression with wind speed as an instrument, we find mild evidence for the harmful effects of air pollution on child health. We show that within our preferred model specification which incorporates monthly adjustments for seasonality in our pollution variable, exposure to ambient air pollution has little to no effect on child health. Whilst we find no significant impact on our child stunting measure (height-for-age), we find weak effects on our wasting measure, with children exposed to PM2.5 during the first trimester being smaller on average and weighing less than their peers of the same age and gender not exposed to polluted air. Our study also finds mild evidence for the existence of heterogeneity in the impact of air pollution on child health in our sample.

In the final essay, we investigate the impact of extreme weather events (droughts) on child marriage and fertility outcomes for young girls in Kenya. The findings from this paper provide evidence for the adverse effects of droughts on child marriage. The findings also show child fertility outcomes to be adversely impacted by droughts. Finally, our findings show that girls living in rural households with lower levels of income are more susceptible to the adverse effects of droughts on marriage and fertility.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Birmingham Business School, Department of Economics
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory


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