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Something in the water: contaminated drinking water and infant health

Author

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Janet Currie & Joshua Graff Zivin & Katherine Meckel & Matthew Neidell & Wolfram Schlenker, 2013. "Something in the water: contaminated drinking water and infant health," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 46(3), pages 791-810, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:46:y:2013:i:3:p:791-810
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2008. "Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(3), pages 499-532, June.
    2. Shimshack, Jay P. & Ward, Michael B. & Beatty, Timothy K.M., 2007. "Mercury advisories: Information, education, and fish consumption," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 158-179, March.
    3. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 409-439.
    4. Currie, Janet & Neidell, Matthew & Schmieder, Johannes F., 2009. "Air pollution and infant health: Lessons from New Jersey," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 688-703, May.
    5. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 1-22, May.
    6. Janet Currie & Matthew Neidell, 2005. "Air Pollution and Infant Health: What Can We Learn from California's Recent Experience?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 1003-1030.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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 448-453, May.
    10. 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.
    11. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell, 2013. "Environment, Health, and Human Capital," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(3), pages 689-730, September.
    12. 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.
    13. 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 843-863, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Grooms Katherine K., 2016. "Does Water Quality Improve When a Safe Drinking Water Act Violation Is Issued? A Study of the Effectiveness of the SDWA in California," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 1-23, January.
    2. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell, 2013. "Environment, Health, and Human Capital," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(3), pages 689-730, September.
    3. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie & Valentina Duque, 2017. "Childhood Circumstances and Adult Outcomes: Act II," NBER Working Papers 23017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Beach, Brian & Ferrie, Joseph & Saavedra, Martin & Troesken, Werner, 2016. "Typhoid Fever, Water Quality, and Human Capital Formation," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 76(01), pages 41-75, March.
    5. Hill, Elaine L., 2012. "Shale Gas Development and Infant Health: Evidence from Pennsylvania," Working Papers 180063, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    6. Prashant Bharadwaj & Matthew Gibson & Joshua Graff Zivin & Christopher Neilson, 2017. "Gray Matters: Fetal Pollution Exposure and Human Capital Formation," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 505-542.
    7. Hope Corman & Dhaval M. Dave & Nancy E. Reichman, 2017. "Evolution of the Infant Health Production Function," NBER Working Papers 24131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Guojun He & Jeffrey M. Perloff, 2016. "Surface Water Quality and Infant Mortality in China," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65(1), pages 119-139.
    9. Alexander, Diane & Currie, Janet, 2017. "Is it who you are or where you live? Residential segregation and racial gaps in childhood asthma," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 186-200.
    10. Teevrat Garg & Stuart Hamilton & Jacob Hochard & Evan Plous & John Talbot, 2016. "(Not so) Gently down the stream: river pollution and health in Indonesia," GRI Working Papers 234, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    11. repec:eee:jeeman:v:86:y:2017:i:c:p:160-192 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Aggeborn, Linuz & Öhman, Mattias, 2017. "The Effects of Fluoride in the Drinking Water," Working Paper Series 2017:20, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    13. Joseph S. Shapiro & David A. Keiser, 2017. "Consequences of the Clean Water Act and the Demand for Water Quality," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2070, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    14. David A. Keiser & Joseph S. Shapiro, 2017. "Consequences of the Clean Water Act and the Demand for Water Quality," Working Papers 17-07, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

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