Air Pollution and Student Performance in the U.S.
We combine satellite-based pollution data and test scores from over 10,000 U.S. school districts to estimate the relationship between air pollution and test scores. To deal with potential endogeneity we instrument for air quality using (i) year-to-year coal production variation and (ii) a shift-share instrument that interacts fuel shares used for nearby power production with national growth rates. We find that each one-unit increase in particulate pollution reduces test scores by 0.02 standard deviations. Our findings indicate that declines in particulate pollution exposure raised test scores and reduced the black-white test score gap by 0.06 and 0.01 standard deviations, respectively.
We would like to thank Claudia Persico and Robert McMillan along with seminar participants at the 11th European meeting of the Urban Economics Association for helpful comments. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.