Severe Air Pollution and Child Absences When Schools and Parents Respond

52 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2017 Last revised: 2 Apr 2020

See all articles by Haoming Liu

Haoming Liu

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Department of Economics

Alberto Salvo

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 24, 2018

Abstract

We examine how absences respond to particle pollution in a multi-year individual panel comprising 6,500 children enrolled at international schools situated in a major economic hub in north China. These schools (and their parents) have been willing and able to respond to the dire state of air quality, by implementing defensive procedures (thresholds for outdoor play) and capital (air-tight windows and central air-conditioned filtration systems). Even in this setting, we find substantial heterogeneity in the response to ambient PM2.5. Pollution sensitivity is stronger among US/Canadian/European than Chinese, children who miss school the most, and a minority of children who depart within one year of arrival, but overall is modest compared to estimates for the US. This suggests that to some extent the school response can substitute, through defensive behavior, for the absence response. We offer a benchmark for school administrators in polluted middle-income countries, yet caution that more research is needed on the long-term implications of PM2.5 exposure.

Keywords: Air pollution, school absences, defensive expenditure, avoidance behavior, particulate matter, longitudinal study, heterogeneous effects, human capital, developing country, environmental justice, distributed lags, instrumental variables, thermal inversions

JEL Classification: I18, J24, Q51

Suggested Citation

Liu, Haoming and Salvo, Alberto, Severe Air Pollution and Child Absences When Schools and Parents Respond (September 24, 2018). Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Vol. 92, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3077226 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3077226

Haoming Liu

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Department of Economics ( email )

10 Kent Ridge Crest
Singapore 119260
Singapore

Alberto Salvo (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Department of Economics ( email )

1 Arts Link, AS2 #06-02
Singapore 117570, Singapore 119077
Singapore

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