COVID-19 Mortality and Contemporaneous Air Pollution

40 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2020

See all articles by Wes Austin

Wes Austin

Georgia State University

Stefano Carattini

Georgia State University

John Gomez Mahecha

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Michael Pesko

Georgia State University - Department of Economics

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

We examine the relationship between contemporaneous fine particulate matter exposure and COVID-19 morbidity and mortality using an instrumental variable approach based on wind direction. Harnessing daily changes in county-level wind direction, we show that arguably exogenous fluctuations in local air quality impact the rate of confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19. In our preferred high dimensional fixed effects specification with state-level policy and social distancing controls, we find that a one μg/m3 increase in PM 2.5 increases the number of confirmed cases by roughly 2% from the mean case rate in a county. These effects tend to increase in magnitude over longer time horizons, being twice as large over a 3-day period. Meanwhile, a one μg/m3 increase in PM 2.5 increases the same-day death rate by 3% from the mean. Our estimates are robust to a host of sensitivity tests. These results suggest that air pollution plays an important role in mediating the severity of respiratory syndromes such as COVID-19, for which progressive respiratory failure is the primary cause of death, and that policy levers to improve air quality may lead to improvements in COVID-19 outcomes.

Keywords: pollution, air quality, PM 2.5, COVID-19, health, mortality

JEL Classification: D620, I100, Q530

Suggested Citation

Austin, Wes and Carattini, Stefano and Mahecha, John Gomez and Pesko, Michael, COVID-19 Mortality and Contemporaneous Air Pollution (2020). CESifo Working Paper No. 8609, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3711885

Wes Austin (Contact Author)

Georgia State University ( email )

35 Broad Street
Atlanta, GA 30303-3083
United States

Stefano Carattini

Georgia State University ( email )

35 Broad Street
Atlanta, GA 30303-3083
United States

John Gomez Mahecha

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Michael Pesko

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

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