Edson R. Severnini
Carnegie Mellon University
4800 Forbes Ave #2114B
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|May 2018||Toxic Truth: Lead and Fertility|
with Karen Clay, Margarita Portnykh: w24607
Using U.S county level data on lead in air for 1978-1988 and lead in topsoil in the 2000s, this paper examines the impact of lead exposure on a critical human function with societal implications – fertility. To provide causal estimates of the effect of lead on fertility, we use two sets of instruments: i) the interaction of the timing of implementation of Clean Air Act regulations and the 1944 Interstate Highway System Plan for the panel data and ii) the 1944 Interstate Highway System Plan for the cross sectional data. We find that reductions in airborne lead between 1978 and 1988 increased fertility rates and that higher lead in topsoil decreased fertility rates in the 2000s. The latter finding is particularly concerning, because it suggests that lead may continue to impair fertility tod...
|April 2016||Canary in a Coal Mine: Infant Mortality, Property Values, and Tradeoffs Associated with Mid-20th Century Air Pollution|
with Karen Clay, Joshua Lewis: w22155
Pollution is a common byproduct of economic activity. Although policymakers should account for both the benefits and the negative externalities of polluting activities, it is difficult to identify those who are harmed and those who benefit from them. To overcome this challenge, our paper uses a novel dataset on the mid-20th century expansion of the U.S. power grid to study the costs and the benefits of coal-fired electricity generation. The empirical analysis exploits the timing of coal-fired power plant openings and annual variation in plant-level coal consumption from 1938 to 1962, when emissions were virtually unregulated. Pollution from the burning of coal for electricity generation is shown to have quantitatively important and nonlinear effects on county-level infant mortality rates. ...
|October 2015||Pollution, Infectious Disease, and Mortality: Evidence from the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic|
with Karen Clay, Joshua Lewis: w21635
The 1918 Influenza Pandemic killed millions worldwide and hundreds of thousands in the United States. This paper studies the impact of air pollution on pandemic mortality. The analysis combines a panel dataset on infant and all-age mortality with a novel measure of air pollution based on the burning of coal in a large sample of U.S. cities. We estimate that air pollution contributed significantly to pandemic mortality. Cities that used more coal experienced tens of thousands of excess deaths in 1918 relative to cities that used less coal with similar pre-pandemic socioeconomic conditions and baseline health. Factors related to poverty, public health, and the timing of onset also affected pandemic mortality. The findings support recent medical evidence on the link between air pollution and ...