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A perfect storm: The effect of natural disasters on child health

By Cheyenne Danielle Quijano

Typhoons and their accompanying flooding have destructive effects, including an
increase in the risk of waterborne disease in children. Using a spatial regression discontinuity
design, I explore the immediate to short-term effects of flooding as a result
of Typhoon Labuyo on the incidence of diarrhea and acute respiratory infection in the
Philippines by comparing children living in a flooded barangay (town) to children living
just outside of the flooded area. I build on the existing literature by accounting for
both incidence and intensity of the typhoon’s flooding in my model. I construct this
new flooding measure using programming techniques and ArcGIS by manipulating data
collected by the University of Maryland’s Global Flood Monitoring System. This data
as well as health data from the 2013 Philippines National Demographic Health Surveys
were collected the day after Typhoon Labuyo left the Philippines, providing a unique
opportunity to explore the immediate impact of the typhoon on child health. Most of
my results are insignificant, but subgroup analyses show that the effect of flooding on
waterborne disease incidence is less impactful in the immediate term following a flood
and more impactful in the medium-term. This is important, because understanding
the detrimental health effects of flooding is of utmost importance, especially because
climate change will only increase the frequency and intensity of natural disasters.

Professor Erica M. Field, Faculty Advisor
Professor Michelle P. Connolly, Faculty Advisor

JEL classification: I150, O120, O130, Q540

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Undergraduate Program Assistant
Matthew Eggleston

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly