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Disaster Exposure in Childhood and Adult Noncognitive Skill: Evidence from the Philippines

Bulaon, June Patrick and Shoji, Masahiro (2022): Disaster Exposure in Childhood and Adult Noncognitive Skill: Evidence from the Philippines.

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Abstract

The relevance of non-cognitive skill to individuals’ socio-economic outcomes has become a crucial point of interest. The literature suggests that those who possess growth mindsets—the belief that intelligence and ability can be developed—are more likely to succeed academically and respond better to adversity and social exclusion. However, how these beliefs or mindsets are formed are scarcely explored. Exploiting exogenous variations in the timing and path of tropical cyclones in the Philippines, this study examines the persistent effects of experiencing natural disasters in childhood on adult growth mindset. Results reveal that exposure to more tropical cyclones during in utero and infancy leads adults to believe that intelligence and ability are fixed and cannot be developed. We also provide evidence that this effect is mediated by poor childhood nutrition and health. Such findings point to the significance of prioritizing infant and maternal care in disaster and climate policy.

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