Toxic Truth: Lead and Fertility

74 Pages Posted: 30 May 2018

See all articles by Karen Clay

Karen Clay

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Margarita Portnykh

Carnegie Mellon University

Edson Severnini

Carnegie Mellon University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Abstract

Using U.S county level data on lead in air for 1978-1988 and lead in topsoil in the 2000s, this paper examines the impact of lead exposure on a critical human function with societal implications – fertility. To provide causal estimates of the effect of lead on fertility, we use two sets of instruments: i) the interaction of the timing of implementation of Clean Air Act regulations and the 1944 Interstate Highway System Plan for the panel data and ii) the 1944 Interstate Highway System Plan for the cross sectional data. We find that reductions in airborne lead between 1978 and 1988 increased fertility rates and that higher lead in topsoil decreased fertility rates in the 2000s. The latter finding is particularly concerning, because it suggests that lead may continue to impair fertility today, both in the United States and in other countries that have significant amounts of lead in topsoil.

Keywords: lead in air, lead in gasoline, lead in topsoil, fertility, Clean Air Act

JEL Classification: Q53, J13, N52, N92

Suggested Citation

Clay, Karen B. and Portnykh, Margarita and Severnini, Edson, Toxic Truth: Lead and Fertility. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11541. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3185235

Karen B. Clay (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Margarita Portnykh

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Edson Severnini

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

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