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Lead Exposure and Behavior: Effects on Antisocial and Risky Behavior among Children and Adolescents

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  • Jessica Wolpaw Reyes

Abstract

It is well known that exposure to lead has numerous adverse effects on behavior and development. Using data on two cohorts of children from the NLSY, this paper investigates the effect of early childhood lead exposure on behavior problems from childhood through early adulthood. I find large negative consequences of early childhood lead exposure, in the form of an unfolding series of adverse behavioral outcomes: behavior problems as a child, pregnancy and aggression as a teen, and criminal behavior as a young adult. At the levels of lead that were the norm in United States until the late 1980s, estimated elasticities of these behaviors with respect to lead range between 0.1 and 1.0.

Suggested Citation

  • Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, 2014. "Lead Exposure and Behavior: Effects on Antisocial and Risky Behavior among Children and Adolescents," NBER Working Papers 20366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20366
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    1. repec:ucp:jaerec:doi:10.1086/691686 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Sammy Zahran & Terrence Iverson & Shawn P. McElmurry & Stephan Weiler, 2017. "The Effect of Leaded Aviation Gasoline on Blood Lead in Children," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 575-610.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • K49 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Other
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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