Impact of the December 2004 Tsunami on Birth Outcomes in Aceh, Indonesia
Amar A. Hamoudi, Duke University
Elizabeth Frankenberg, Duke University
Cecep S. Sumantri, SurveyMETER
On December 26, 2004, a massive undersea earthquake sent a trillion tons of water crashing into the coasts of south and southeast Asia, Africa, and Australia. The Indonesian province of Aceh, being closest to the epicenter, was especially hard hit. We use retrospective birth histories collected as part of a unique longitudinal survey conducted in the aftermath of the tsunami to explore the impact of the disaster on birth outcomes to surviving women. Preliminary results suggest the disaster had no appreciable impact on birthweights, attendance at birth, reported non-live terminations, or sex ratios. These results are surprising in light of previous work by others indicating substantial impacts on outcomes like these from disasters of similar or smaller magnitude. We explore these surprising null results in some detail. Our results may point to a remarkable resilience of evolutionary adaptations to forestall transmission of deleterious conditions to the next generation.