research institute for compassionate economics

The child health impacts of coal: evidence from India’s coal expansion

Sangita Vyas, on July 21st, 2019

This paper investigates the child health impacts associated with a large coal plant expansion in India. Using place and cohort fixed effects, exposure to a median-sized coal plant at birth is associated with a height deficit of 0.09-0.10 standard deviations. This effect is consistent with the underlying mechanism of air pollution: coal plant capacity expansions are associated with increases in air pollution, and the child height deficit associated with increases in capacity is decreasing in distance from the coal plant. The results are not driven by changes in other observable characteristics, and height pre-trends are similar in places that receive coal plants and those that do not. Heterogeneity analyses find similar effects on children of rich and poor households, but rich households are more likely to live closer to coal plants than poor households.

Published: Working Paper       Geography: India

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