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The Effect of Air Pollution on Body Weight and Obesity: Evidence from China

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  • Deschenes, Olivier

    (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Wang, Huixia

    (Hunan University)

  • Wang, Si

    (Hunan University)

  • Zhang, Peng

    (Hong Kong Polytechnic University)

Abstract

We provide the first study estimating the causal effect of air pollution on body weight. Using the China Health and Nutrition Survey, which provides detailed longitudinal health and socioeconomic information for 13,226 adult individuals over 1989-2011, we find significant positive effects of air pollution, instrumented by thermal inversions, on body mass index (BMI). Specifically, a 1 μg/m3 (1.59%) increase in average PM2.5 concentrations in the past 12 months increases BMI by 0.31%, and further increases the overweight and obesity rates by 0.89 and 0.19 percentage points, respectively. Our paper identifies a new cause of obesity, and sheds new light on the morbidity cost of air pollution.

Suggested Citation

  • Deschenes, Olivier & Wang, Huixia & Wang, Si & Zhang, Peng, 2019. "The Effect of Air Pollution on Body Weight and Obesity: Evidence from China," IZA Discussion Papers 12296, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12296
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    Cited by:

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    2. Ke-Liang Wang & Li-Li Ding & Jian-Min Wang & Mian Yang, 2020. "Analysis of provincial total-factor air pollution efficiency in China by using context-dependent slacks-based measure considering undesirable outputs," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 104(2), pages 1899-1921, November.
    3. Singh, Tejendra Pratap & Visaria, Sujata, 2021. "Up in the Air: Air Pollution and Crime – Evidence from India," SocArXiv hs4xj, Center for Open Science.
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    5. Li, Hao & Guo, Huanxiu & Huang, Naqun & Ye, Jingjing, 2020. "Health risks of exposure to waste pollution: Evidence from Beijing," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    air pollution; obesity; weight gain; China;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • 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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