Can Environmental Policy Reduce Infant Mortality? Evidence from the Ganga Pollution Cases

50 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2016 Last revised: 19 Mar 2018

See all articles by Quy-Toan Do

Quy-Toan Do

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Shareen Joshi

Georgetown University

Samuel Stolper

Harvard University

Date Written: August 19, 2016


In many developing countries, environmental quality remains low and policies to improve it have been inconsistently effective. This paper conducts a case study of environmental policy in India, focusing on unprecedented Supreme Court rulings that targeted industrial pollution in the Ganga River. In a difference-in-differences framework, the rulings are found to have precipitated reductions in river pollution and one-month infant mortality, both of which persist for more than a decade. The authors then estimate a pollution-mortality dose-response function across twenty-nine rivers in the Ganga Basin, instrumenting for pollution with its upstream counterpart. The estimation reveals a significant external health burden of river pollution, not just in the district of measurement, but also on downstream communities. It further provides suggestive evidence that reducing pollution was an important driver behind declines in infant mortality observed after the rulings.

Keywords: Law and Justice Institutions, Hydrology, Health Care Services Industry, Global Environment, Pollution Management & Control, Brown Issues and Health

Suggested Citation

Do, Quy Toan and Joshi, Shareen and Stolper, Samuel, Can Environmental Policy Reduce Infant Mortality? Evidence from the Ganga Pollution Cases (August 19, 2016). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7799, Available at SSRN:

Quy Toan Do (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Shareen Joshi

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

Samuel Stolper

Harvard University

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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