The effects of air pollution on educational outcome: evidence from Chile

Produced by: 
LACEA annual meeting
Available from: 
October 2013
Paper author(s): 
Mauricio Andrés Vela Barón (IADB)
Sebastian Miller (IADB)
Topic: 
Education - Health
Environmental Economics
Year: 
2013


In addition to the morbidity and mortality concerns of outdoor air pollution, studies have shown that air pollution also generates problems on children cognitive performance and on children capital formation. Higher concentration of pollutants can affect the children’s learning process by exacerbating respiratory illnesses, fatigue, absenteeism and attention problems. The purpose of this work is to analyze the possible contemporary effects of PM10 and other different air pollutants on standardized test scores in Chile. It examines results for 3,880 schools in the Metropolitan, Valparaiso and O’Higgins regions for children in fourth, eight and tenth grades between 1997 and 2012.

Data for particulate matter (PM10 and PM2:5), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and ozone (O3) was interpolated at school level using a kriging methodology. Results suggest that higher PM10 and O3 annual levels are clearly associated to worse burdens in test scores. Still in 2012, many municipalities are still exceeding the annual PM10 international standard quality norm (50 micrograms per cubic meter) by 15 micrograms per cubic meter in average. Efforts to reduce pollution below this norm in these most polluted municipalities would account for improvements in reading and math test scores in 3.5% and 3.1% of a standard deviation respectively.

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Research section: 
Lacea 2013 annual meeting
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