Air pollution, health, and socio-economic status: the effect of outdoor air quality on childhood asthma

J Health Econ. 2004 Nov;23(6):1209-36. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2004.05.002.


This paper estimates the effect of air pollution on child hospitalizations for asthma using naturally occurring seasonal variations in pollution within zip codes. Of the pollutants considered, carbon monoxide (CO) has a significant effect on asthma for children ages 1-18: if 1998 pollution levels were at their 1992 levels, there would be a 5-14% increase in asthma admissions. Also, households respond to information about pollution with avoidance behavior, suggesting it is important to account for these endogenous responses when measuring the effect of pollution on health. Finally, the effect of pollution is greater for children of lower socio-economic status (SES), indicating that pollution is one potential mechanism by which SES affects health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Asthma / economics
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Characteristics
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Models, Econometric
  • Poverty*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Seasons
  • Small-Area Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors