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Air Pollution and Procyclical Mortality

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  • Garth Heutel
  • Christopher J. Ruhm

Abstract

Prior research demonstrates that mortality rates increase during economic booms and decrease during economic busts, but little analysis has been conducted investigating the role of environmental risks as potential mechanisms for this relationship. We investigate the contribution of air pollution to the procyclicality of deaths by combining state-level data on overall, cause-specific, and age-specific mortality rates with state-level measures of ambient concentrations of three types of pollutants and the unemployment rate. After controlling for demographic variables and state and year fixed-effects, we find a significant positive correlation between carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations and mortality rates. Controlling for CO, particulate matter (PM10), and ozone (O3) attenuates the relationship between overall mortality and the unemployment rate by 30 percent. The attenuation is particularly large, although imprecisely measured, for fatalities from respiratory diseases and is frequently substantial for age groups unlikely to be involved in the labor market. Our results are consistent with those of other studies in the economics and public health literatures measuring the mortality effects of air pollution.

Suggested Citation

  • Garth Heutel & Christopher J. Ruhm, 2013. "Air Pollution and Procyclical Mortality," NBER Working Papers 18959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18959
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    Cited by:

    1. Carolyn Fischer & Garth Heutel, 2013. "Environmental Macroeconomics: Environmental Policy, Business Cycles, and Directed Technical Change," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 197-210, June.
    2. Sameem, Sediq & Sylwester, Kevin, 2017. "The business cycle and mortality: Urban versus rural counties," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 175(C), pages 28-35.
    3. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2015. "Recessions, healthy no more?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 17-28.
    4. Rhodes, M. Taylor, 2013. "Pigskin, Tailgating and Pollution: Estimating the Environmental Impacts of Sporting Events," UNCG Economics Working Papers 13-19, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics.
    5. Venke Furre Haaland & Kjetil Telle, 2013. "Pro-cyclical mortality. Evidence from Norway," Discussion Papers 766, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    6. Ólafsdóttir, Thorhildur & Hrafnkelsson, Birgir & Thorgeirsson, Gudmundur & Ásgeirsdóttir, Tinna Laufey, 2016. "The tax-free year in Iceland: A natural experiment to explore the impact of a short-term increase in labor supply on the risk of heart attacks," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 14-27.
    7. Tapia, Jose, 2015. "Profits encourage investment, investment dampens profits, government spending does not prime the pump — A DAG investigation of business-cycle dynamics," MPRA Paper 64698, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. repec:wly:hlthec:v:25:y:2016:i:s2:p:57-69 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Garth Heutel & Christopher J. Ruhm, 2016. "Air Pollution and Procyclical Mortality," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 667-706.
    10. Christopher Khawand, 2015. "Air Quality, Mortality, and Perinatal Health: Causal Evidence from Wildfires," 2015 Papers pkh318, Job Market Papers.
    11. repec:eee:ecolet:v:163:y:2018:i:c:p:114-117 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Eleonora Fichera & John Gathergood, 2016. "Do Wealth Shocks Affect Health? New Evidence from the Housing Boom," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(S2), pages 57-69, November.
    13. Inés Berniell, 2018. "Pay Cycles: Individual and Aggregate Effects of Paycheck Frequency," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0221, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • 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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