Economic Status, Air Quality, and Child Health: Evidence from Inversion Episodes

63 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2014

See all articles by Jenny Jans

Jenny Jans

Uppsala University

Per Johansson

IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation; Uppsala University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Peter Nilsson

IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation; Uppsala University

Abstract

On normal days, the temperature decreases with altitude, allowing air pollutants to rise and disperse. During inversion episodes, a warmer air layer at higher altitude traps pollutants close to the ground. We show how readily available NASA satellite data on vertical temperature profiles can be used to measure inversion episodes on a global scale with high spatial and temporal resolution. Then, we link inversion episode data to ground level pollution monitors and to daily in- and outpatient records for the universe of children in Sweden during a six-year period to provide instrumental variable estimates of the effects of air quality on children's health.The IV estimates show that the respiratory illness health care visit rate increases by 8 percent for each 10 μm/m³ increase in PM10; an estimate four times higher than conventional estimates. Importantly, by linking the health care data to detailed records of parental background characteristics, we show that children from low-income households suffer significantly more from air pollution than children from high income households. Finally, we provide evidence on the importance of several mechanisms that could contribute to the difference in the impact of air pollution across children in rich and poor households.

Keywords: instrumental variable, environmental policy, inversions, health, air pollution, nonparametric regression, socio-economic gradient in health

JEL Classification: Q53, I1, I3, J24

Suggested Citation

Jans, Jenny and Johansson, Per and Nilsson, Peter, Economic Status, Air Quality, and Child Health: Evidence from Inversion Episodes. IZA Discussion Paper No. 7929. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2396424

Jenny Jans (Contact Author)

Uppsala University

No Address Available

Per Johansson

IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation ( email )

Box 513
751 20 Uppsala
Sweden
+ 46 18 471 70 86 (Phone)
+ 46 18 471 70 71 (Fax)

Uppsala University - Department of Economics ( email )

Uppsala, 751 20
Sweden

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Peter Nilsson

IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation ( email )

Box 513
751 20 Uppsala
Sweden

Uppsala University

Box 513
Uppsala, 751 20
Sweden

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