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The long-run spillover effects of pollution: How exposure to lead affects everyone in the classroom

The long-run spillover effects of pollution: How exposure to lead affects everyone in the classroom

561/2021 Ludovica Gazze, Claudia Persico and Sandra Spirovska
working papers,public policy

561/2021 Ludovica Gazze, Claudia Persico and Sandra Spirovska

Children exposed to pollutants like lead are more disruptive and have lower achievement. However, little is known about whether lead-exposed children affect the long-run outcomes of their peers. We estimate these spillover effects using new data on preschool blood lead levels (BLLs) matched to education data for all students in North Carolina public schools. We compare siblings whose school-grade cohorts differ in the proportion of children with elevated BLLs, holding constant school and peers’ demographics. Having more lead-exposed peers is associated with lower high-school graduation and SAT-taking rates and increased suspensions and absences. Peer effects are larger for same-gendered students.

Public Policy and Data