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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Katja Coneus & C. Katharina Spieß, 2010. "Pollution Exposure and Infant Health: Evidence from Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 312, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp312

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cawley, John & Spiess, C. Katharina, 2008. "Obesity and skill attainment in early childhood," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 388-397, December.
    2. 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.
    3. Strauss, John & Thomas, Duncan, 1996. "Measurement and Mismeasurement of Social Indicators," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 30-34, May.
    4. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1308-1334, December.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
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    Indoor and outdoor pollution; health; early childhood;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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