Skip to main content Accessibility help

The impact of drought on human capital in rural India

  • Kuhu Joshi (a1)


We study the impact of a severe drought on children's educational outcomes in rural Maharashtra, a state in central India. Using pooled cross section data on children's test scores, we employ a difference-in-differences methodology to estimate the impact. We find that the drought caused a decline of 4.14 per cent in math scores and 2.67 per cent in reading scores of affected children. We also study heterogeneity in the impact by gender, age, parents' schooling, and household wealth, finding evidence in support of an income effect whereby households with limited means to smooth consumption disinvest in their children in response to the drought.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. E-mail:


Hide All
Abadie, A, Athey, S, Imbens, GW and Wooldridge, J (2017) When should you adjust standard errors for clustering? Technical report, National Bureau of Economic Research.
Alderman, H, Hoddinott, J and Kinsey, B (2006) Long-term consequences of early childhood malnutrition. Oxford Economic Papers 58, 450474.
Baez, JE and Santos, IV (2007) Children's Vulnerability to Weather Shocks: A Natural Disaster as a Natural Experiment. New York: Social Science Research Network.
Baez, J, De la Fuente, A and Santos, I (2010) Do natural disasters affect human capital? An assessment based on existing empirical evidence. World Bank and Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn (IZA), Discussion Paper No. 5164.
Beegle, K, Dehejia, RH and Gatti, R (2006) Child labor and agricultural shocks. Journal of Development Economics 81, 8096.
Björkman-Nyqvist, M (2013) Income shocks and gender gaps in education: evidence from Uganda. Journal of Development Economics 105, 237253.
Bonjean, CA, Brunelin, S and Simonet, C (2012) Impact of climate related shocks on child's health in Burkina Faso. Working Papers halshs-00725253, HAL. Available at
Cameron, AC, Gelbach, JB and Miller, DL (2008) Bootstrap-based improvements for inference with clustered errors. Review of Economics and Statistics 90, 414427.
Cunha, F and Heckman, J (2007) The technology of skill formation. American Economic Review 97, 3147.
Deuchert, E and Felfe, C (2015) The tempest: short-and long-term consequences of a natural disaster for children's development. European Economic Review 80, 280294.
Duryea, S and Arends-Kuenning, M (2003) School attendance, child labor and local labor market fluctuations in urban Brazil. World Development 31, 11651178.
Ferreira, FH and Schady, N (2009) Aggregate economic shocks, child schooling, and child health. The World Bank Research Observer 24, 147181.
Fitzsimons, E (2007) The effects of risk on education in Indonesia. Economic Development and Cultural Change 56, 125.
Government of India (2016) Manual for Drought Management. Technical report. Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, Government of India.
Government of Maharashtra (2012) The Economic Survey of Maharashtra. Technical report. Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Department of Planning, Government of Maharashtra, India.
Groppo, V and Kraehnert, K (2017) The impact of extreme weather events on education. Journal of Population Economics 30, 433472.
Hanna, R and Oliva, P (2016) Implications of climate change for children in developing countries. The Future of Children 26, 115132.
Jacob, B and Rothstein, J (2016) The measurement of student ability in modern assessment systems. Journal of Economic Perspectives 30, 85108.
Jacoby, HG and Skoufias, E (1997) Risk, financial markets, and human capital in a developing country. The Review of Economic Studies 64, 311335.
Jensen, R (2000) Agricultural volatility and investments in children. American Economic Review 90, 399404.
Kruger, DI (2007) Coffee production effects on child labor and schooling in rural Brazil. Journal of Development Economics 82, 448463.
Lohmann, S and Lechtenfeld, T (2015) The effect of drought on health outcomes and health expenditures in rural Vietnam. World Development 72, 432448.
Maccini, S and Yang, D (2009) Under the weather: health, schooling, and economic consequences of early-life rainfall. American Economic Review 99, 10061026.
McKee, TB, Doesken, NJ and Kleist, J (1993) The Relationship of Drought Frequency and Duration to Time Scales. Proceedings of the Eight Conference on Applied Climatology, vol. 17, pp. 179183, Boston, MA: American Meteorological Society.
Mendelsohn, R, Nordhaus, WD and Shaw, D (1994) The impact of global warming on agriculture: a Ricardian analysis. American Economic Review 84, 753771.
Mishra, S (2006) Farmers' suicides in Maharashtra. Economic and Political Weekly 41, 15381545.
Pathania, V (2007) The Long-Run Impact of Drought at Birth on Height of Women in Rural India. Working Paper, Berkeley: University of California.
Paxson, CH (1993) Consumption and income seasonality in Thailand. Journal of Political Economy 101, 3972.
Psacharopoulos, G (1997) Child labor versus educational attainment some evidence from Latin America. Journal of Population Economics 10, 377386.
Ravallion, M and Wodon, Q (2000) Does child labour displace schooling? Evidence on behavioural responses to an enrollment subsidy. The Economic Journal 110, 158175.
Rose, E (1999) Consumption smoothing and excess female mortality in rural India. Review of Economics and Statistics 81, 4149.
Rosenzweig, MR and Binswanger, HP (1993) Wealth, weather risk and the composition and profitability of agricultural investments. The Economic Journal 103, 5678.
Shah, M and Steinberg, BM (2017) Drought of opportunities: contemporaneous and long-term impacts of rainfall shocks on human capital. Journal of Political Economy 125, 527561.
Skoufias, E (2001) Progress and Its Impacts on the Human Capital and Welfare of Households in Rural Mexico: A Synthesis of the Results of an Evaluation by IFPRI. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute.
Skoufias, E and Vinha, K (2012) Climate variability and child height in rural Mexico. Economics and Human Biology 10, 5473.
The Economic Times (2013) Maharashtra reels under worst drought in 40 years. Available at
Townsend, RM (1994) Risk and insurance in village india. Econometrica 62, 539591.
Udmale, P, Ichikawa, Y, Kiem, AS and Panda, S (2014 a) Drought impacts and adaptation strategies for agriculture and rural livelihood in the Maharashtra State of India. The Open Agriculture Journal 8, 4147.
Udmale, P, Ichikawa, Y, Manandhar, S, Ishidaira, H and Kiem, AS (2014 b) Farmers' perception of drought impacts, local adaptation and administrative mitigation measures in Maharashtra State, India. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 10, 250269.
Udmale, P, Ichikawa, Y, Nakamura, T, Shaowei, N, Ishidaira, H and Kazama, F (2016) Rural drinking water issues in India's drought- prone area: a case of Maharashtra State. Environmental Research Letters 11, 111.
Udry, C (2006) Child labor. In Banerjee, AV, Benabou, R and Mookherjee, D (eds), Understanding Poverty. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 243258.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Environment and Development Economics
  • ISSN: 1355-770X
  • EISSN: 1469-4395
  • URL: /core/journals/environment-and-development-economics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Joshi supplementary material
Joshi supplementary material 1

 PDF (402 KB)
402 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed