February 1, 2017 9:00 pm / 10:00 pm

43-105 CHS- Center for Health Sciences

Michelle Marcus
Brown University, Department of Economics

About the speaker: Michelle Marcus is a PhD Candidate in the Economics department at Brown University. She works primarily in the areas of health economics, environmental economics, and applied microeconomics. Her research focuses on quantifying the impact of environmental toxins on child and infant heath and studying the role of environmental policy and regulation in mitigating these health effects. Her dissertation explores the impact of environmental regulations, such as underground storage tank regulation and gasoline content regulation, on infant and child health.

About the Seminar: Governments can address the growing concern over human exposure to environmental pollution through directing cleanup efforts ex-post, regulating industry to reduce future pollution, or warning the public to encourage avoidance behaviors. While we have some evidence of the benefits of large government cleanups, we have less evidence of the benefits of mandated adoption of preventative technology. This paper quantifies the health impacts of a relatively small but widespread pollution source and explores whether the adoption of preventative technologies can improve health. I estimate the effect of exposure to leaking underground storage tanks on infant health using data on maternal addresses to identify precise proximity to sites, and leak timing data to determine exposure during gestation. By exploiting panel data on mothers, I estimate the relative difference in sibling outcomes between exposed and unexposed siblings born to mothers within two narrow distance bands from a leak site. Exposure increases both the probability of low birth weight and preterm birth by about 7 percent. Compliance with regulations requiring preventative technologies ultimately succeeded in mitigating the entire effect of leak exposure on low birth weight. Finally, I exploit this unique setting in which residents are unlikely to know about underground leaks to study the impact of information on avoidance behaviors.

For more information please contact Nancy M. Arroyo at narroyo@ph.ucla.edu or (310) 206-5296