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Shale Gas Development and Infant Health: Evidence from Pennsylvania

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  • Hill, Elaine L.

Abstract

This research exploits the introduction of shale gas wells in Pennsylvania in response to growing controversy around the drilling method of hydraulic fracturing. Using detailed location data on maternal addresses and GIS coordinates of gas wells, this study examines singleton births to mothers residing close to a shale gas well from 2003 to 2010 in Pennsylvania. The introduction of drilling increased low birth weight and decreased term birth weight on average among mothers living within 2.5 km of a well compared to mothers living within 2.5 km of a permitted well. Adverse effects were also detected using measures such as small for gestational age and APGAR scores, while no effects on gestation periods were found. In the intensive margin, an additional well is associated with a 7 percent increase in low birth weight, a 5 g reduction in term birth weight and a 3 percent increase in premature birth. These results are robust to other measures of infant health, many changes in specification and falsification tests. These findings suggest that shale gas development poses significant risks to human health.
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Suggested Citation

  • Hill, Elaine L., 2012. "Shale Gas Development and Infant Health: Evidence from Pennsylvania," Working Papers 180063, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:cudawp:180063
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.180063
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    File URL: https://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/180063/files/Cornell-Dyson-wp1212.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health Economics and Policy; Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment 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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