Same Environment, Stratified Impacts? Air Pollution, Extreme Temperatures, and Birth Weight in South China

62 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2021 Last revised: 1 Apr 2022

See all articles by Xiaoying Liu

Xiaoying Liu

University of Pennsylvania

Jere Behrman

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics

Emily Hannum

University of Pennsylvania

Fan Wang

University of Houston - Department of Economics

Qingguo Zhao

Family Planning Special Hospital of Guangdong - Epidemiology Research Office of key Laboratory of Male Reproduction and Genetics (National Health Commission)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 11, 2022

Abstract

This paper investigates whether associations between birth weight and prenatal ambient environmental conditions--pollution and extreme temperatures--differ by 1) maternal education; 2) children’s innate health; and 3) interactions between these two. We link birth records from Guangzhou, China, during a period of high pollution, to ambient air pollution (PM10 and a composite measure) and extreme temperature data. We first use mean regressions to test whether, overall, maternal education is an "effect modifier" in the relationships between ambient air pollution, extreme temperature, and birth weight. We then use conditional quantile regressions to test for effect heterogeneity according to the unobserved innate vulnerability of babies after conditioning on other confounders. Results show that 1) the negative association between ambient exposures and birth weight is twice as large at lower conditional quantiles of birth weights as at the median; 2) the protection associated with college-educated mothers with respect to pollution and extreme heat is heterogeneous and potentially substantial: between 0.02 and 0.34 standard deviations of birth weights, depending on the conditional quantiles; 3) this protection is amplified under more extreme ambient conditions and for infants with greater unobserved innate vulnerabilities.

Keywords: air pollution, birth weight, maternal education, extreme temperatures, China

JEL Classification: I14, J1, Q53, Q54

Suggested Citation

Liu, Xiaoying and Behrman, Jere R. and Hannum, Emily and Wang, Fan and Zhao, Qingguo, Same Environment, Stratified Impacts? Air Pollution, Extreme Temperatures, and Birth Weight in South China (February 11, 2022). Liu, Xiaoying, Jere Behrman, Emily Hannum, Fan Wang, and Qingguo Zhao. 2022. “Same Environment, Stratified Impacts? Air Pollution, Extreme Temperatures, and Birth Weight in South China.” Social Science Research, February, 102691. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2021.102691, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3761257 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3761257

Xiaoying Liu

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

PA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.pop.upenn.edu/bio/xiaoying-liu

Jere R. Behrman (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
133 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States
215-898-7704 (Phone)
215-573-2057 (Fax)

Emily Hannum

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

PA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.pop.upenn.edu/bio/emily-hannum

Fan Wang

University of Houston - Department of Economics ( email )

Houston, TX 77204-5882
United States

HOME PAGE: http://fanwangecon.github.io

Qingguo Zhao

Family Planning Special Hospital of Guangdong - Epidemiology Research Office of key Laboratory of Male Reproduction and Genetics (National Health Commission) ( email )

Guangzhou
China

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