Chernobyl's Subclinical Legacy: Prenatal Exposure to Radioactive Fallout and School Outcomes in Sweden
AbstractJapanese atomic bomb survivors irradiated 8-25 weeks after ovulation subsequently suffered reduced IQ [Otake and Schull, 1998]. Whether these findings generalize to low doses (less than 10 mGy) has not been established. This paper exploits the natural experiment generated by the Chernobyl nuclear accident in April 1986, which caused a spike in radiation levels in Sweden. In a comprehensive data set of 562,637 Swedes born 1983-1988, we find the cohort in utero during the Chernobyl accident had worse school outcomes than adjacent birth cohorts, and this deterioration was largest for those exposed approximately 8-25 weeks post conception. Moreover, we find larger damage among students born in regions that received more fallout: students from the eight most affected municipalities were 3.6 percentage points less likely to qualify to high school as a result of the fallout. Our findings suggest that fetal exposure to ionizing radiation damages cognitive ability at radiation levels previously considered safe.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Columbia University, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 0607-19.
Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
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Other versions of this item:
- Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Mårten Palme, 2009. "Chernobyl's Subclinical Legacy: Prenatal Exposure to Radioactive Fallout and School Outcomes in Sweden," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1729-1772, November.
- Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Mårten Palme, 2007. "Chernobyl's Subclinical Legacy: Prenatal Exposure to Radioactive Fallout and School Outcomes in Sweden," NBER Working Papers 13347, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
- I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
- Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
- Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-02-02 (All new papers)
- NEP-EDU-2008-02-02 (Education)
- NEP-RES-2008-02-02 (Resource Economics)
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