2019 Urban Fellow
Research Topic: Climate Change and Air Pollution
Faculty Advisor: Michelle Bell
Interrelationships between asthma-associated air pollution and economic mobility: considering childhood health as a channel for the transmission of social class
The societal costs of air pollution have been classically measured in terms of premature deaths or medical costs. Emerging research, however, has explored the impact of air pollution on human capital formation. I extend upon this work by assessing the association between childhood exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and adult earnings outcomes across U.S. census tracts. After accounting for pertinent economic covariates and regional random effects, my regression models indicate that early life exposure to PM2.5 is associated with lower predicted income ranks by mid-adulthood; children raised in high pollution tracts (75th percentile PM2.5) are anticipated to have roughly a -0.54 decrease in income percentile relative to children raised in low pollution tracts (25th percentile PM2.5). Stratified models show that the effect of PM on earnings is more pronounced for poor children and children living in rural environments. Abatement of air pollution could be an issue of environmental justice.