Dust and Death: Evidence from the West African Harmattan

64 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2019 Last revised: 16 May 2021

See all articles by Achyuta Adhvaryu

Achyuta Adhvaryu

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Prashant Bharadwaj

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics

James Fenske

University of Warwick

Anant Nyshadham

Boston College - Department of Economics

Richard Stanley

IntraHealth International

Date Written: June 2019

Abstract

Using two decades of data from twelve low-income countries in West Africa, we show that dust carried by harmattan trade winds increases infant and child mortality. Health investments respond to dust exposure, consistent with compensating behaviors. Despite these efforts, surviving children still exhibit negative health impacts. Our data allow us to investigate differential impacts over time and across countries. We find declining impacts over time, suggesting adaptation. Using national-level measures of macroeconomic conditions and health resources, we find suggestive evidence that both economic development and public health improvements have contributed to this adaptation, with health improvements playing a larger role.

Suggested Citation

Adhvaryu, Achyuta and Bharadwaj, Prashant and Fenske, James and Nyshadham, Anant and Stanley, Richard, Dust and Death: Evidence from the West African Harmattan (June 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25937, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3406453

Achyuta Adhvaryu (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Prashant Bharadwaj

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
United States

James Fenske

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Anant Nyshadham

Boston College - Department of Economics ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

Richard Stanley

IntraHealth International ( email )

1100 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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