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Environment, Health, and Human Capital

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  • Joshua Graff Zivin
  • Matthew Neidell

Abstract

In this review, we discuss three major contributions economists have made to our understanding of the relationship between the environment and individual well-being. First, in explicitly recognizing how optimizing behavior, particularly in the form of residential sorting, can lead to nonrandom assignment of pollution, economists have employed a wide range of quasi-experimental techniques to develop causal estimates of the effect of pollution. Second, economic research has placed a considerable focus on the role of avoidance behavior, which is an important component for understanding the difference between biological and behavioral effects of pollution and for proper welfare calculations. Lastly, economic research has expanded the focus of analysis beyond traditional health outcomes to include measures of human capital, including labor supply, productivity, and cognition. Our review of the quasi-experimental evidence on this topic suggests that pollution does indeed have a wide range of effects on individual well-being, even at levels well below current regulatory standards. Given the importance of health and human capital as an engine for economic growth, these findings underscore the role of environmental conditions as an important factor of production.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Literature.

Volume (Year): 51 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 689-730

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:51:y:2013:i:3:p:689-730

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.51.3.689
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Cited by:
  1. Teixeira, Aurora A.C. & Tavares-Lehmann, Ana Teresa, 2014. "Human capital intensity in technology-based firms located in Portugal: Does foreign ownership matter?," Research Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 737-748.
  2. Nicolas R. Ziebarth & Maike Schmitt & Martin Karlsson, 2014. "The Short-Term Population Health Effects of Weather and Pollution: Implications of Climate Change," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 646, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, 2014. "Lead Exposure and Behavior: Effects on Antisocial and Risky Behavior among Children and Adolescents," NBER Working Papers 20366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Janet Currie & Hannes Schwandt, 2014. "The 9/11 Dust Cloud and Pregnancy Outcomes: A Reconsideration," NBER Working Papers 20368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Emmanuelle Lavaine & Matthew J. Neidell, 2013. "Energy Production and Health Externalities: Evidence from Oil Refinery Strikes in France," NBER Working Papers 18974, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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