Can Environmental Policy Reduce Infant Mortality? Evidence from the Ganga Pollution Cases
50 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2016 Last revised: 19 Mar 2018
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
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