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Atmospheric Pollution and Child Health in Late Nineteenth Century Britain

Author

Listed:
  • Bailey, Roy E.

    () (University of Essex)

  • Hatton, Timothy J.

    () (University of Essex)

  • Inwood, Kris

    () (University of Guelph)

Abstract

Atmospheric pollution was an important side effect of coal-fired industrialisation in the nineteenth century. In Britain emissions of black smoke were on the order of fifty times as high as they were a century later. In this paper we examine the effects of these emissions on child development by analysing the heights on enlistment during the First World War of men born in England and Wales in the 1890s. We use the occupational structure to measure the coal intensity of the districts in which these men were observed as children in the 1901 census. We find strong negative effects of coal intensity on height, which amounts to difference of almost an inch between the most and least polluted localities. These results are robust to a variety of specification tests and they are consistent with the notion that the key channel of influence on height was via respiratory infection. The subsequent reduction of emissions from coal combustion is one factor contributing to the improvement in health (and the increase in height) during the twentieth century.

Suggested Citation

  • Bailey, Roy E. & Hatton, Timothy J. & Inwood, Kris, 2016. "Atmospheric Pollution and Child Health in Late Nineteenth Century Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 10428, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10428
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Stephan Heblich & Alex Trew & Yanos Zylberberg, 2016. "East Side Story: Historical Pollution and Persistent Neighborhood Sorting," Discussion Paper Series, Department of Economics 201613, Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews, revised 20 Mar 2018.
    2. George R. Boyer & Timothy J. Hatton, 1997. "Migration and Labour Market Integration in Late Nineteenth-Century England and Wales," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 50(4), pages 697-734, November.
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    4. 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.
    5. Seema Jayachandran, 2009. "Air Quality and Early-Life Mortality: Evidence from Indonesia’s Wildfires," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(4).
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    Cited by:

    1. W. Walker Hanlon, 2018. "London Fog: A Century of Pollution and Mortality, 1866-1965," NBER Working Papers 24488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Schneider, Eric B. & Ogasawara, Kota, 2017. "Disease and child growth in industrialising Japan: assessing instantaneous changes in growth and changes in the growth pattern, 1911-39," Economic History Working Papers 84066, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    atmospheric pollution; health and height;

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • 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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