What do we know about short- and long-term effects of early-life exposure to pollution?

Janet Currie, Joshua Graff Zivin, Jamie Mullins, Matthew Neidell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


Evidence shows that pollution exposure early in life is detrimental to near-term health, and an increasing body of evidence suggests that early-childhood health influences health and human capital outcomes later in life. This article reviews the economic research that brings these two literatures together. We begin with a conceptual model that highlights the core relationships across the life cycle. We then review the literature concerned with such estimates, focusing particularly on identification strategies to mitigate concerns regarding endogenous exposure. The nascent empirical literature provides both direct and indirect evidence that early-childhood exposure to pollution significantly impacts later-life outcomes. We discuss the potential policy implications of these long-lasting effects and conclude with a number of promising avenues for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-247
Number of pages31
JournalAnnual Review of Resource Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 5 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


  • avoidance behavior
  • child
  • environment
  • health
  • human capital
  • latent


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