On the Road to Recovery: Gasoline Content Regulations and Child Health

Michelle Marcus, Brown University

In an effort to curb pollution and improve health, state and federal governments have enacted gasoline content regulations. However, the impact of these regulations on the environment and population health has not been quantified. I exploit spatial variation in children's exposure to highways to estimate the effect of gasoline regulation on both pollution and child health. Using a difference-in-difference estimation strategy, I compare childhood asthma hospitalizations in high exposure areas to low exposure areas, before and after gasoline regulation. Results show that the introduction of California Air Resource Board (CARB) gasoline in California in 1996 reduced asthma by 8 percent in high exposure areas. A cohort-level analysis shows improvements in health over time, implying a cumulative effect for cleaner-burning gasoline. Moreover, children of low socio-economic status experience a larger health improvement. Therefore, precisely-targeted gasoline content regulations can improve child health, and may help diminish existing health disparities.

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Presented in Session 180: Public Health and the Environment