NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

What Do We Know About Short and Long Term Effects of Early Life Exposure to Pollution?

Janet Currie, Joshua S. Graff Zivin, Jamie Mullins, Matthew J. Neidell

NBER Working Paper No. 19571
Issued in October 2013
NBER Program(s):   CH   EEE   HE   LS   PE

Pollution exposure early in life is detrimental to near-term health and an increasing body of evidence suggests that early childhood health influences health and human capital outcomes later in life. This paper reviews the economic research that brings these two literatures together. We begin with a conceptual model that highlights the core relationships across the lifecycle. We then review the literature concerned with such estimates, focusing particularly on identification strategies to mitigate concerns regarding endogenous exposure. The nascent empirical literature provides both direct and indirect evidence that early childhood exposure to pollution significantly impacts later life outcomes. We discuss the potential policy implications of these long-lasting effects, and conclude with a number of promising avenues for future research.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19571

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