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Pollution Exposure and Infant Health: Evidence from Germany

  • Katja Coneus
  • C. Katharina Spieß

This paper examines the impact of outdoor and indoor pollution on children's health from birth until the age of three years in Germany. We use representative data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), combined with five air pollution levels. These data come from the Federal Environment Agency and cover the years 2002-2007. Our work offers three important contributions. Firstly, we use accurate measures for five different pollutants (CO, NO2, SO2, O3, and PM10) on a (half-)hourly basis. Secondly, we are able to follow the effect of pollution exposure on a child's health during the first three years of life, accounting for time-invariant and unobserved neighborhood and mother-specific characteristics. Thirdly, we calculate different pollution intensity measures. Instead of relying solely on mean pollution levels, we are able to use (half-)hourly pollution levels as well as indoor pollution as measurements for the total latent pollution exposure. Our results suggest a significantly negative impact for some pollutants on infant health during early childhood. In comparison to outdoor pollution, indoor pollution seems to be more harmful directly after birth, while the relationship between indoor and outdoor pollution changes later in childhood. Since smoking is one source of producing carbon monoxide and thus affects child health negatively, our results further support the advice to parents of young children not to smoke.

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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 312.

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Length: 32 p.
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp312
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  1. John Cawley & C. Katharina Spiess, 2008. "Obesity and Skill Attainment in Early Childhood," NBER Working Papers 13997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Neidell, Matthew J., 2004. "Air pollution, health, and socio-economic status: the effect of outdoor air quality on childhood asthma," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 1209-1236, November.
  3. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  4. Strauss, John & Thomas, Duncan, 1996. "Measurement and Mismeasurement of Social Indicators," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 30-34, May.
  5. Coneus, Katja & Spieß, Christa Katharina, 2008. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Health in Early Childhood," ZEW Discussion Papers 08-073, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  6. Currie, Janet & Neidell, Matthew, 2004. "Air Pollution and Infant Health: What Can We Learn From California's Recent Experience?," IZA Discussion Papers 1056, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. 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.
  8. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic status and health in childhood: the origins of the gradient," Working Papers 262, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
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