Extreme Weather and Health Outcomes in Women: Evidence from Colombia and Peru

Economics of Public Policy master project by Melina Aliayi, Manohar Gannavarapu, and André López ’21

A pregnant woman in a warm sweater places her hands on her belly, forming a heart shape with her fingers
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing BSE master projects. The project is a required component of all Master’s programs at the Barcelona School of Economics.

Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between health outcomes during delivery and extreme temperatures in Colombia and Peru. 

We used geo-coded household survey data from the Demographic and Health Survey Program (DHS), allowing us to construct an index accounting for the incidence of pregnancy complications in women during labor. Matching these health outcomes indicators with monthly-temperature data at a grid-cell level, we find that experiencing extreme temperatures during pregnancy, particularly cold temperatures, increases the probability of suffering pregnancy complications in the case of Colombia. Contrary to majority of the literature on health outcomes and temperature, we find no effect of experiencing extreme high temperatures. Interestingly, we find no significant effects in Peru.

Conclusions

  • We identify that experiencing at least one month of extreme cold temperatures during pregnancy increases the incidence of pregnancy complications by 2.5%.  
  • Shifting the analysis to the trimester level, we find that experiencing extreme cold temperatures during the first and third trimester of pregnancy increases the probability of pregnancy complications. 
  • Furthermore, we find an additional effect by wealth. Being poor increases the probability of experiencing pregnancy complications due to extreme cold temperatures by an additional 5%.

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