Edson R. Severnini

Carnegie Mellon University
4800 Forbes Ave #2114B
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Tel: 510-860-1808

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Institutional Affiliation: Carnegie Mellon University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

October 2018Assortative Matching or Exclusionary Hiring? The Impact of Firm Policies on Racial Wage Differences in Brazil
with Fran├žois Gerard, Lorenzo Lagos, David Card: w25176
A growing body of research shows that firms' employment and wage-setting policies contribute to wage inequality and pay disparities between groups. We measure the effects of these policies on racial pay differences in Brazil. We find that nonwhites are less likely to work at establishments that pay more to all race groups, a pattern that explains about 20% of the white-nonwhite wage gap for both genders. The pay premiums offered by different employers are also compressed for nonwhites relative to whites, contributing another 5% of the overall gap. We then ask how much of the under-representation of nonwhites at higher-paying workplaces is due to the selective skill mix at these establishments. Using a counterfactual based on the observed skill distribution at each establishment and the non...
May 2018Toxic Truth: Lead and Fertility
with Karen Clay, Margarita Portnykh: w24607
Using U.S county level data on lead in air for 1978-1988, this paper provides the first causal evidence on the effects of airborne lead exposure on the general fertility rate and the completed fertility rate in the broad population. Instrumental variable estimates show the increase in completed fertility implied by the average observed decrease in airborne lead is 0.14 children per woman, which is 6.4 percent of mean fertility. To explore the current relevance of our findings, we estimate the effect of lead historically accumulated in topsoil on fertility in the 2000s. The results suggest that lead may continue to impair fertility today, both in the United States and in other countries that have significant amounts of lead in topsoil.
April 2016Canary in a Coal Mine: Infant Mortality, Property Values, and Tradeoffs Associated with Mid-20th Century Air Pollution
with Karen Clay, Joshua Lewis: w22155
Investments in local development and infrastructure projects often generate negative externalities such as pollution. Previous work has either focused on the potential for these investments to stimulate local economic activity or the health costs associated with air pollution. This paper examines the tradeoffs associated with the historical expansion in coal-fired electricity generation in the United States, which fueled local development but produced large amounts of unregulated air pollution. We focus on a highly responsive measure of health tradeoffs: the infant mortality rate. Our analysis leverages newly digitized data on all major coal-fired power plants for the period 1938-1962, and two complementary difference-in-differences strategies based on the opening of power plants and new g...
October 2015Pollution, 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 ...

Published: Karen Clay & Joshua Lewis & Edson Severnini, 2018. "Pollution, Infectious Disease, and Mortality: Evidence from the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic," The Journal of Economic History, vol 78(04), pages 1179-1209. citation courtesy of

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