In this paper we review the evidence on the impact of large shocks, such as drought, on child and adult health, with particular emphasis on Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Our focus is on the impact of shocks on long-term outcomes, and we ask whether there are intrahousehold differences in these effects.
The evidence suggests substantial fluctuations in body weight and growth retardation in response to shocks. While there appears to be no differential impact between boys and girls, adult women are often worse affected by these shocks. For children, there is no full recovery from these losses, affecting adult health and education outcomes, as well as lifetime earnings. For adults, there is no evidence of persistent effects from transitory shocks in our data.