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Smog in our brains: Gender differences in the impact of exposure to air pollution on cognitive performance in China

Listed author(s):
  • Chen, Xi
  • Zhang, Xiaobo
  • Zhang, Xin

While there is a large body of literature on the negative health effects of air pollution, there is much less written about its effects on cognitive performance for the whole population. This paper studies the effects of contemporaneous and cumulative exposure to air pollution on cognitive performance based on a nationally representative survey in China. By merging a longitudinal sample at the individual level with local air-quality data according to the exact dates and counties of interviews, we find that contemporaneous and cumulative exposure to air pollution impedes both verbal and math scores of survey subjects. Interestingly, the negative effect is stronger for men than for women. Specifically, the gender difference is more salient among the old and less educated in both verbal and math tests.

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Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series IFPRI discussion papers with number 1619.

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Date of creation: 2017
Handle: RePEc:fpr:ifprid:1619
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  1. Simon Luechinger, 2009. "Valuing Air Quality Using the Life Satisfaction Approach," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(536), pages 482-515, 03.
  2. Olivier Deschênes & Michael Greenstone, 2011. "Climate Change, Mortality, and Adaptation: Evidence from Annual Fluctuations in Weather in the US," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 152-185, October.
  3. He, Jiaxiu & Liu, Haoming & Salvo, Alberto, 2015. "Severe Air Pollution and Labor Productivity: Evidence from Industrial Towns in China," IZA Discussion Papers 8916, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Stafford, Tess M., 2015. "Indoor air quality and academic performance," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 34-50.
  5. Chen Yuyu & Jin Ginger Zhe & Kumar Naresh & Shi Guang, 2012. "Gaming in Air Pollution Data? Lessons from China," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 13(3), pages 1-43, December.
  6. Avraham Ebenstein & Victor Lavy & Sefi Roth, 2016. "The Long-Run Economic Consequences of High-Stakes Examinations: Evidence from Transitory Variation in Pollution," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 36-65, October.
  7. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "The Impact of Air Pollution on Infant Mortality: Evidence from Geographic Variation in Pollution Shocks Induced by a Recession," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1121-1167.
  8. Zhang, Xin & Zhang, Xiaobo & Chen, Xi, 2015. "Happiness in the Air: How Does a Dirty Sky Affect Subjective Well-being?," IZA Discussion Papers 9312, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. 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.
  10. Levinson, Arik, 2012. "Valuing public goods using happiness data: The case of air quality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 869-880.
  11. Nicholas J. Sanders, 2012. "What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker: Prenatal Pollution Exposure and Educational Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(3), pages 826-850.
  12. Janet Currie & Joshua Graff Zivin & Jamie Mullins & Matthew Neidell, 2014. "What Do We Know About Short- and Long-Term Effects of Early-Life Exposure to Pollution?," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 217-247, October.
  13. Ghanem, Dalia & Zhang, Junjie, 2014. "‘Effortless Perfection:’ Do Chinese cities manipulate air pollution data?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 203-225.
  14. Sun, Cong & Kahn, Matthew E. & Zheng, Siqi, 2017. "Self-protection investment exacerbates air pollution exposure inequality in urban China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 468-474.
  15. Marcotte, Dave E., 2016. "Something in the Air? Pollution, Allergens and Children's Cognitive Functioning," IZA Discussion Papers 9689, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Simon Søbstad Bensnes, 2015. "You sneeze, you lose: The impact of pollen exposure on cognitive performance during high-stakes high school exams," Working Paper Series 16615, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
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