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Geographic and Socioeconomic Heterogeneity in the Benefits of Reducing Air Pollution in the United States

Tatyana Deryugina, Nolan Miller, David Molitor, Julian Reif


This chapter is a preliminary draft unless otherwise noted. It may not have been subjected to the formal review process of the NBER. This page will be updated as the chapter is revised.

Chapter in forthcoming NBER book Environmental and Energy Policy and the Economy, volume 2, Matthew Kotchen, James H. Stock, and Catherine Wolfram, editors
Conference held 2020-05-21
Forthcoming from University of Chicago Press
in NBER Book Series Environmental and Energy Policy and the Economy

Policies aimed at reducing the harmful effects of air pollution exposure typically focus on areas with high levels of pollution. However, if a population’s vulnerability to air pollution is imperfectly correlated with current pollution levels, then this approach to air quality regulation may not efficiently target pollution reduction efforts. We examine the geographic and socioeconomic determinants of vulnerability to dying from acute exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution. We find that there is substantial local and regional variability in the share of individuals who are vulnerable to pollution both at the county and ZIP code level. Vulnerability tends to be negatively related to health and socioeconomic status. Surprisingly, we find that vulnerability is also negatively related to an area’s average PM2.5 pollution level, suggesting that basing air quality regulation only on current pollution levels may fail to effectively target regions with the most to gain by reducing exposure.

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w27357, Geographic and Socioeconomic Heterogeneity in the Benefits of Reducing Air Pollution in the United States, Tatyana Deryugina, Nolan H. Miller, David Molitor, Julian Reif
 
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