In this paper we explore the effect that a recent drought in Andhra Pradesh, India, has had on the school and work patterns of children aged 11 to 12 years. Previous empirical studies have investigated the effect of shocks on outcomes for children but few have allowed for heterogeneous treatment effects across children. Ignoring such heterogeneity might lead to biases in the estimated impact of the shocks. The aim of this paper is to address this lacuna. Using data from Young Lives, a longitudinal cohort study of children, we estimate the average impact of the drought on participation in schooling. We then expand our empirical model to allow for heterogeneous effects across children of different demographic categories – namely gender and birth order. Our analysis shows that ignoring child heterogeneity would underestimate the severity of the effect of the drought on children’s welfare and human capital accumulation. In particular, we find that the drought significantly reduced the time spent on schooling by most demographic groups. The exception is the group most likely to have been involved in agricultural work when there is no drought; the schooling participation of eldest sons appears to increase because of the drought. Furthermore, we trace the impact of the drought on child labour and cognitive development, while we rule out the possibility that the uncovered heterogeneous patterns might be driven by social norms or cultural biases in favour of eldest sons.
Galab, S.; Outes-Leon, I. Young Lives Working Paper 73. Siblings, Schooling, Work and Drought. Young Lives, Department of International Development at the University of Oxford, Oxford, UK (2011) 36 pp. ISBN 978-1-904427-83-4