Pollution and the Decline in Human Cognition: Evidence from China

69 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021

See all articles by Lanlin Ding

Lanlin Ding

Xi'an Jiaotong University (XJTU)

Maoyong Fan

Ball State University - Department of Economics

Peng Nie

Xi'an Jiaotong University

Date Written: February 24, 2021

Abstract

We use a regression discontinuity design to investigate the long-term causal impact of PM2.5 on cognition ability among middle-aged and older adults in China. We find that the Huai River Policy increased PM2.5 by 22.8 μg/m3 and the long-term PM2.5 exposure has large and significant negative impact on mental intactness, mathematical ability, episodic memory, and overall cognitive ability. The results are robust to a series of robustness checks and economically significant. Our back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that one-SD increase in PM2.5 is linked to an annual economic loss of $23.9 billion due to increased medical expenditures treating mental illness, and reducing PM2.5 to the WHO standard would save roughly $34.7 billion annually.

Keywords: Long-term exposure, Fine particulate matter, Cognitive ability, Regression discontinuity design, Huai River Policy

JEL Classification: I18, Q48, Q53

Suggested Citation

Ding, Lanlin and Fan, Maoyong and Nie, Peng, Pollution and the Decline in Human Cognition: Evidence from China (February 24, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3792594 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3792594

Lanlin Ding

Xi'an Jiaotong University (XJTU)

26 Xianning W Rd.
Xi'an Jiao Tong University
Xi'an, Shaanxi 710049
China

Maoyong Fan

Ball State University - Department of Economics ( email )

Whitinger Business Building, room 201
2000 W. University Ave.
Muncie, IN 47306-0340
United States
765-285-5741 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/maoyongfan/home

Peng Nie (Contact Author)

Xi'an Jiaotong University ( email )

No. 74 Yanta West Road
Xi'an, 710061
China

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