Coal Smoke and Mortality in an Early Industrial Economy

24 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2018

See all articles by Brian Beach

Brian Beach

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics

William Walker Hanlon

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 2018

Abstract

Air pollution was severe in the nineteenth century, yet its health consequences are often overlooked due to a lack of pollution data. We offer a new approach for inferring local coal use levels based on local industrial structure and industry‐specific coal use intensity. This allows us to provide the first estimates of the mortality effects of British industrial coal use in 1851–60. Exploiting wind patterns for identification, we find that a one standard deviation increase in coal use raised infant mortality by 6–8% and that industrial coal use explains roughly one‐third of the urban mortality penalty observed during this period.

Suggested Citation

Beach, Brian and Hanlon, William Walker, Coal Smoke and Mortality in an Early Industrial Economy (November 2018). The Economic Journal, Vol. 128, Issue 615, pp. 2652-2675, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3277589 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecoj.12522

Brian Beach (Contact Author)

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics ( email )

Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States

William Walker Hanlon

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 951477
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1477
United States

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