Abstract: We study the impact of air pollution exposure (CO, O3 and Pm10) during pregnancy and early years of life on infant health for a sample of children attending public kindergartens in Bogotá, Colombia. The study uses a unique database that gathers information on children health which allows to combine information of residential location of the mother with information from the city air quality monitors. To overcome endogeneity problems due to residential sorting we identify pairs of siblings in the dataset and implement panel data models with mother fixed effects. Results show evidence that mothers, who are exposed to higher levels of CO and O3 during pregnancy, have a higher probability of their babies being born with a low birth weight. Furthermore, a child exposed in-utero to higher levels of O3 has a higher probability of being diagnosed with a lung-related disease. Our findings advocate for more strict environmental regulations as a way to improve human capital in developing countries.
A new working paper has been added to the CINCH working paper series: “The Human Capital Cost of Radiation: Long-run Evidence from Exposure outside the Womb” by Benjamin Elsner and Florian Wozny.
Abstract: This paper studies the long-term effect of radiation on cognitive skills. We use regional variation in nuclear fallout caused by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, which led to a permanent increase in radiation levels in most of Europe. To identify a causal effect, we exploit the fact that the degree of soil contamination depended on rainfall within a critical ten-day window after the disaster. Based on unique geo-coded survey data from Germany, we show that people who lived in highly-contaminated areas in 1986 perform significantly worse in standardized cognitive tests 25 years later. This effect is driven by the older cohorts in our sample (born before 1976), whereas we find no effect for people who were first exposed during early childhood. These results are consistent with radiation accelerating cognitive decline during older ages. Moreover, they suggest that radiation has negative effects even when people are first exposed as adults, and point to significant external costs of man-made sources of radiation.
Physicians' altruism in incentives contracts: Medicare's quality race
The paper analyzes the impact of physicians' altruism and motivation on the outcomes of rank-order tournaments in healthcare, where a fixed price contract on quantity is supplemented with a relative performance contract on quality. Our theoretical model forecasts crowding out of most altruistic types owing to the effect of the participation constraint. In an empirical application to the Medicare's nationwide natural experiment with a relative performance contract on quality for acute inpatient care since 2013, we observe the proof of the model's predictions. Namely, the quality dimensions, which are linked to patient's benefit, demonstrate higher deterioration among top-performing hospitals than other incentivized dimensions. The unintended effects of altruism may be adjusted by the social planner through designing a revelation mechanism and subsidizing the altruistic types.
Room: WST-C.02.12, Weststadttürme Berliner Platz 6-8, Essen