NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Environmental Policy as Social Policy? The Impact of Childhood Lead Exposure on Crime

Jessica Wolpaw Reyes

NBER Working Paper No. 13097
Issued in May 2007
NBER Program(s):   CH   HE   LS   PE   EEE

Childhood lead exposure can lead to psychological deficits that are strongly associated with aggressive and criminal behavior. In the late 1970s in the United States, lead was removed from gasoline under the Clean Air Act. Using the sharp state-specific reductions in lead exposure resulting from this removal, this article finds that the reduction in childhood lead exposure in the late 1970s and early 1980s is responsible for significant declines in violent crime in the 1990s, and may cause further declines into the future. The elasticity of violent crime with respect to lead is estimated to be approximately 0.8.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13097

Published: Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, 2007. "Environmental Policy as Social Policy? The Impact of Childhood Lead Exposure on Crime," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Berkeley Electronic Press, vol. 7(1).

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