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Every Day is Earth Day: Evidence on the Long-term Impact of Environmental Activism

Daniel M. Hungerman, Vivek S. Moorthy

NBER Working Paper No. 26979
Issued in April 2020, Revised in June 2020
NBER Program(s):Children, Environment and Energy Economics, Public Economics

We explore the importance of activism in the context of Earth Day. We use variation in weather to study the long-term effects of the original Earth Day on attitudes, environmental outcomes, and children's health. Unusually bad weather in a community on April 22, 1970, is associated 10 to 20 years later with weaker support for the environment, particularly among those who were school-aged in 1970. Bad weather on Earth Day is also associated with higher levels of carbon monoxide in the air and greater risk of congenital abnormalities in infants born in the following decades. These results indicate a long-lasting and localized effect of Earth Day, and show that there can be benefits to voluntary activity that would be impossible to identify until years after the volunteering occurs.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26979

 
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