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This paper is the first to estimate the extent to which early childhood climatic shocks affect both cognitive and non-cognitive skills as measured at multiple points in childhood and adolescence. We assess the impact of rainfall observed in utero and during the first two years of life by analyzing a rich longitudinal study of rural youth in a poor province in China. Our empirical strategy entails estimating the impact of rainfall on various measures of cognitive and non-cognitive skills utilizing a reduced form strategy, conditional on county and year-of-birth fixed effects. The results indicate that there is a significant impact of early shocks, particularly shocks in utero and in the first year of life, on cognitive skills, but that this impact may be declining over time. There is little evidence of any impact on non-cognitive skills. We also present evidence that the declining salience of early shocks is consistent with compensatory strategies employed by parents.
Date Posted: 18 April 2016