Saturday, June 06, 2009

"Pollution, Health, and Avoidance Behavior: Evidence from the Ports of Los Angeles"

I have a forthcoming paper the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty looking at the relationship between pollution exposure and wages.

Dirty Money: Is there a Wage Premium for Working in a Pollution Intensive Job? [PDF old working paper version]

This paper is part of a growing literature looking at the health and the environment by economists. We argue that individuals demand higher wages to compensate for the negative health implications. These authors argue that individuals act to reduce exposure.

This appears to be a great natural experiment that gets to the heart of the matter without many of the measurement problems that are associated with studies of this type.

"Pollution, Health, and Avoidance Behavior: Evidence from the Ports of Los Angeles"

NBER Working Paper No. w14939

ENRICO MORETTI, University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
MATTHEW NEIDELL, University of Chicago - Department of Economics and CISES

A pervasive problem in the literature on the health costs of pollution is that optimizing individuals may compensate for increases in pollution by reducing their exposure to protect their health. This implies that estimates of the health effects of pollution may vastly understate the full welfare effects of pollution, particularly for individuals most at risk who have the greatest incentive to adopt compensatory behavior. Furthermore, using ambient monitors to approximate individual exposure to pollution may induce considerable measurement error. We overcome these issues by estimating the short run effects of ozone on respiratory related health conditions using daily boat arrivals and departures into the two major ports of Los Angeles as an instrumental variable for ozone levels. While daily variation in boat traffic is a major contributor to local ozone pollution, time-varying pollution due to port activity is arguably a randomly determined event uncorrelated with factors related to health. Instrumental variable estimates are significantly larger than OLS estimates, indicating the importance of accounting for avoidance behavior and measurement error in understanding the full welfare effects from pollution.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's a large hedonic pricing literature, but mostly applied to the housing market. I had never actually seen a hedonic wage study, although I had seen mentions to the methodology.

May I suggest an expansion of the work to include stated preference data? Labour markets are usually distorted, and a choice experiment study could add information on a theoretical market.