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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
Web page: http://economics.ca/cje/
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  1. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and status: Height, ability, and labor market outcomes," Working Papers 232, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell & Wolfram Schlenker, 2011. "Water Quality Violations and Avoidance Behavior: Evidence from Bottled Water Consumption," NBER Working Papers 16695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2005. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 11796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Janet Currie & W. Reed Walker, 2009. "Traffic Congestion and Infant Health: Evidence from E-ZPass," NBER Working Papers 15413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "Air Quality, Infant Mortality, and the Clean Air Act of 1970," NBER Working Papers 10053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Jay Shimshack, 2004. "Are Mercury Advisories Effective? Inofrmation, Education, and Fish Consumption," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0423, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  11. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell, 2008. "Days of Haze: Environmental Information Disclosure and Intertemporal Avoidance Behavior," NBER Working Papers 14271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," NBER Working Papers 16798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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