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Something in the water: contaminated drinking water and infant health

  • Janet Currie
  • Joshua Graff Zivin
  • Katherine Meckel
  • Matthew Neidell
  • Wolfram Schlenker

This paper provides estimates of the effects of in utero exposure to contaminated drinking water on fetal health. To do this, we examine the universe of birth records and drinking water testing results for the state of New Jersey from 1997 to 2007. Our data enable us to compare outcomes across siblings who were potentially exposed to differing levels of harmful contaminants from drinking water while in utero. We find small effects of drinking water contamination on all children, but large and statistically significant effects on birth weight and gestation of infants born to less educated mothers. We also show that those mothers who were most affected by contamination were the least likely to move between births in response to contamination.

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Article provided by Canadian Economics Association in its journal Canadian Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 46 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 791-810

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Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:46:y:2013:i:3:p:791-810
Contact details of provider: Postal: Canadian Economics Association Prof. Steven Ambler, Secretary-Treasurer c/o Olivier Lebert, CEA/CJE/CPP Office C.P. 35006, 1221 Fleury Est Montréal, Québec, Canada H2C 3K4
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  1. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "Air Quality, Infant Mortality, and the Clean Air Act of 1970," Working Papers 0406, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  2. Janet Currie & Matthew Neidell, 2004. "Air Pollution and Infant Health: What Can We Learn From California's Recent Experience," NBER Working Papers 10251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Graff Zivin, Joshua & Neidell, Matthew, 2009. "Days of haze: Environmental information disclosure and intertemporal avoidance behavior," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 119-128, September.
  4. Shimshack, Jay P. & Ward, Michael B. & Beatty, Timothy K.M., 2007. "Mercury advisories: Information, education, and fish consumption," MPRA Paper 25995, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and status: Height, ability, and labor market outcomes," Working Papers 27, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  6. Sandra E. Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," Working Papers 200718, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  7. Janet Currie & Reed Walker, 2011. "Traffic Congestion and Infant Health: Evidence from E-ZPass," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 65-90, January.
  8. Janet Currie & Matthew J. Neidell & Johannes Schmieder, 2008. "Air Pollution and Infant Health: Lessons from New Jersey," NBER Working Papers 14196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. H. Spencer Banzhaf & Randall P. Walsh, 2008. "Do People Vote with Their Feet? An Empirical Test of Tiebout," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 843-63, June.
  10. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell, 2013. "Environment, Health, and Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 18935, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell & Wolfram Schlenker, 2011. "Water Quality Violations and Avoidance Behavior: Evidence from Bottled Water Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 448-53, May.
  12. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 1-22, May.
  13. Coneus, Katja & Spiess, C. Katharina, 2012. "Pollution exposure and child health: Evidence for infants and toddlers in Germany," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 180-196.
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