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Abstract:

CEP discussion paper
The grandkids aren't alright: the intergenerational effects of prenatal pollution exposure
Jonathan Colmer and John Voorheis
December 2020
Paper No' CEPDP1733:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: H23; Q53; J00


Tags: air pollution; environmental regulation; social mobility; human capital

Using newly linked survey and administrative data, providing more than 150 million parent-child links, we show that regulation-induced improvements in early life air quality have intergenerational effects on human capital accumulation in the United States - the second-generation is more likely to attend college. Supporting evidence indicates that intergenerational transmission arises from greater parental resources and investments, rather than heritable channels. Our findings suggest that within-generation estimates of marginal damages substantially underestimate the total welfare effects of improving environmental quality.