When Particulate Matter Strikes Cities: Social Disparities and Health Costs of Air Pollution

Giaccherini MatildeKopinska JoannaPalma Alessandro
CEIS Research Paper
We investigate the heterogeneous effects of daily particular matter (PM) pollution on Italian hospitalizations and their costs. We exploit public transportation strikes as plausibly-exogenous shocks in PM. We find that young individuals, an arguably healthy age group, exhibit economically meaningful responses to changes in air pollution. A higher prevalence of pollution-induced hospitalizations also exists among the elderly, low educated individuals and migrants coming from low income countries. Our results imply a large role for differential avoidance behavior driving heterogeneous marginal effects. PM exposure also affects the intensive margin since pollution-induced hospitalizations are not only more frequent but they are characterized by a higher complexity, generating additional costs.

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Number: 467
Keywords: health effects of air pollution, public transportation strikes, hospitalization costs, environmental inequality
JEL codes: I14, Q53, R41
Volume: 17
Issue: 7
Date: Thursday, August 1, 2019
Revision Date: Tuesday, August 4, 2020