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Energy Production and Health Externalities: Evidence from Oil Refinery Strikes in France


  • Emmanuelle Lavaine
  • Matthew J. Neidell


This paper examines the effect of energy production on newborn health using a recent strike that affected oil refineries in France as a natural experiment. First, we show that the temporary reduction in refining lead to a significant reduction in sulfur dioxide (SO2) concentrations. Second, this shock significantly increased birth weight and gestational age of newborns, particularly for those exposed to the strike during the third trimester of pregnancy. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that a 1 unit decline in SO2 leads to a 196 million euro increase in lifetime earnings per birth cohort. This externality from oil refineries should be an important part of policy discussions surrounding the production of energy.

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  • Emmanuelle Lavaine & Matthew J. Neidell, 2013. "Energy Production and Health Externalities: Evidence from Oil Refinery Strikes in France," NBER Working Papers 18974, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18974
    Note: EEE HE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hanna, Rema & Oliva, Paulina, 2015. "The effect of pollution on labor supply: Evidence from a natural experiment in Mexico City," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 68-79.
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    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy

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