The Impact of Car Pollution on Infant and Child Health: Evidence from Emissions Cheating

82 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2019

See all articles by Diane Alexander

Diane Alexander

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Hannes Schwandt

Northwestern University

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper


Car exhaust is a major source of air pollution, but little is known about its impacts on population health. We exploit the dispersion of emissions-cheating diesel cars - which secretly polluted up to 150 times as much as gasoline cars - across the United States from 2008-2015 as a natural experiment to measure the health impact of car pollution. Using the universe of vehicle registrations, we demonstrate that a 10 percent cheating-induced increase in car exhaust increases rates of low birth weight and acute asthma attacks among children by 1.9 and 8.0 percent, respectively. These health impacts occur at all pollution levels and across the entire socioeconomic spectrum.

Keywords: car pollution, health, emissions-cheating

JEL Classification: I10, I14, K32, J13

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Diane and Schwandt, Hannes, The Impact of Car Pollution on Infant and Child Health: Evidence from Emissions Cheating. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12427. Available at SSRN:

Diane Alexander (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )

230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

Hannes Schwandt

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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