Life after Lead: Effects of Early Interventions for Children Exposed to Lead

53 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2017

See all articles by Stephen B. Billings

Stephen B. Billings

University of Colorado - Boulder

Kevin Schnepel

The University of Sydney; IZA


Lead pollution is consistently linked to cognitive and behavioral impairments, yet little is known about the benefits of public health interventions for children exposed to lead. This paper estimates the long-term impacts of early-life interventions (e.g. lead remediation, nutritional assessment, medical evaluation, developmental surveillance, and public assistance referrals) recommended for lead-poisoned children. Using linked administrative data from Charlotte, NC, we compare outcomes for children who are similar across observable characteristics but differ in eligibility for intervention due to blood lead test results. We find that the negative outcomes previously associated with early-life exposure can largely be reversed by intervention.

Keywords: early childhood intervention, early health shocks, lead exposure, human capital formation

JEL Classification: I12, I18, I21, J13, J24, K42, Q53, Q58

Suggested Citation

Billings, Stephen B. and Schnepel, Kevin, Life after Lead: Effects of Early Interventions for Children Exposed to Lead. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10872, Available at SSRN: or

Stephen B. Billings (Contact Author)

University of Colorado - Boulder ( email )

Leeds School of Business
Koelbel Building
Boulder, CO US 80309
United States

Kevin Schnepel

The University of Sydney ( email )

University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

IZA ( email )

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