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Air Pollution and Infant Health: Lessons from New Jersey


  • Janet Currie
  • Matthew J. Neidell
  • Johannes Schmieder


We examine the impact of three "criteria" air pollutants on infant health in New Jersey in the 1990s by combining information about mother's residential location from birth certificates with information from air quality monitors. In addition to large sample size, our work offers three important innovations: First, because we know the exact addresses of mothers, we select those mothers closest to air monitors to ensure a more accurate measure of air quality. Second, since we follow mothers over time, we control for unobserved characteristics of mothers using maternal fixed effects. Third, we examine interactions of air pollution with smoking and other predictors of poor infant health outcomes. We find consistently negative effects of exposure to pollution, especially carbon monoxide, both during and after birth. The effects are considerably larger for smokers than for nonsmokers as well as for older mothers. Since automobiles are the main source of carbon monoxide emissions, our results have important implications for regulation of automobile emissions.

Suggested Citation

  • Janet Currie & Matthew J. Neidell & Johannes Schmieder, 2008. "Air Pollution and Infant Health: Lessons from New Jersey," NBER Working Papers 14196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14196
    Note: CH EEE HE PE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 409-439.
    2. 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.
    3. Janet Currie, 2009. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 87-122, March.
    4. 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.
    5. Douglas Almond & Kenneth Y. Chay & David S. Lee, 2005. "The Costs of Low Birth Weight," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 1031-1083.
    6. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "Air Quality, Infant Mortality, and the Clean Air Act of 1970," Working Papers 0406, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
    7. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1989:79:5:623-628_7 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:ucn:wpaper:10197/317 is not listed on IDEAS
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    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

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