The Long-Term Effect of Air Pollution on Human Cognition: Evidence from China
64 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021 Last revised: 24 Aug 2021
Date Written: August 24, 2021
We investigate the long-term causal impact of PM2.5 on cognition ability among middle-aged and older adults in China. Using a regression discontinuity design we find that a 10-μg/m3 increase in long-term PM2.5 exposure reduces overall cognitive ability score by 0.7 standard deviation (SD). 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: I15, I18, Q48, Q53
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation