Disruptions to health care quality and early child health outcomes: Evidence from health worker strikes in Kenya

Abstract

This paper measures the effects of health care quality at birth on early child health outcomes in Kenya. To identify impacts, we exploit variation in the timing and location of health worker strikes at individual hospitals across the country between 1995 and 2014. We find that disruptions to care quality during strikes increases both neonatal and infant mortality. In addition, children born during strikes who survive have lower height- and weight-for age z-scores and receive fewer vaccinations in the first year of life. Overall these results show that health care quality can have large immediate health impacts and suggests that these effects persist over time. This study also provides the first rigorous evidence on the consequences of health worker strikes, a growing but understudied phenomenon in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Willa Friedman
Assistant Professor of Economics

I am an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at the University of Houston. I study development economics with interests in health, education, political economy, and behavioral economics, and a regional focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.