UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Jishnu Das, World Bank

Human Capital Accumulation and Disasters: Evidence from the Pakistan Earthquake of 2005

Date and Location

Tuesday, June 4, 2019, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Library Conference Room, 4101 Social Sciences and Humanities


We trace the effects of a large-scale disaster on children in a poor agrarian economy with low capital stocks. Using a new dataset from a survey conducted four years after the devastating Kashmir earthquake of 2005, we document three causal results. First, public infrastructure, household consumption and adult weight recovered to parity between areas close to and far from the fault line. Second, infants in the critical first thousand days at the time of the earthquake accumulated large stature deficits in terms of height for age, with the youngest the most affected. Children aged 3 through 15at the time of the earthquake did not suffer growth shortfalls, but they now score significantly worse on academic tests. Third, children whose mothers completed primary education were fully protected against the emergence of a test score gap. As the children most affected were those who lived with uneducated mothers, these differential dynamics contribute to the persistence of socioeconomic inequalities. Even if capital stocks fully recover, the divergence in human capital acquisition may be key to understanding the income paths of generations affected by large shocks. A full census of the sampled villages allows us to estimate that in the most affected areas, 53% of the households had children subject to the growth shock and 84% of school-age children had uneducated mothers and bore the full brunt of the learning shock.

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