The Impact of a Natural Disaster on Child Health and Mortality

Elizabeth Frankenberg, Duke University
Nicholas Ingwersen, Duke University
Wayan Suriastini, SurveyMETER

In 2004 the Indian Ocean tsunami wreaked havoc in a number of countries bordering the Indian Ocean. Indonesia was hardest hit with a death toll of some 160,000 individuals. In this paper we use unusual longitudinal data that we collected based on a pre-tsunami baseline and five years of subsequent follow ups. We explore the levels and correlates of infant and child mortality, documenting higher rates of mortality below age five among male children, but a cross-over so that female children have higher mortality at ages 5-10 years. We then turn to height. For height, the pattern is reversed. Girls born just before or just after the tsunami lower height for age z-scores that their counterparts born significantly before or after the tsunami. Males, on the other hand, have significantly higher height for age z-scores if they are born just before or just after the tsunami. We explore the implications of these patterns.

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Presented in Session 60: Health and Mortality in Developing Countries