Environmental Health Economics

Peer Reviewed Publications

Pattanayak, S. K., Pakhtigian, E. L., and Litzow, E. (2018). Through the looking glass: Environmental health economics in low and middle income countries. Handbook of Environmental Economics, Volume 4.

Abstract: Human interactions with the environment can profoundly impact many outcomes –health being chief among them. While the nature of environmental risks changes across time and space, the burden of disease attributable to environmental risk hovers stubbornly around one quarter of the total global disease burden. Further, environmental risks are particularly damaging to the health of children, but also to the elderly and the impoverished in low and middle income countries (LMICs). This chapter highlights the ways in which economics provides analytical insight about the human–environment relationship and about potential ways to prevent diseases. Specifically, we contend that the household production framework – which focuses on the beneficiary and households – helps us understand when and how households will avert environmental risks. While economists have been mostly on the sidelines of environmental health research, there is a growing literature from LMICs that examines three aspects of reduction in household environmental risks: (i) how households value these risk reductions, (ii) what factors drive household adoption of environmental health technologies, and (iii) what are the impacts of these technologies on household health. At the risk of simplification, our review of

this literature finds relatively low values for environmental risk reductions,

which is mirrored by limited adoption of environmental health technologies

and, accordingly, disappointing impact on health. Economists have made less

progress in linking the literatures on valuation, adoption and impacts with each other. We conclude by explaining why the next wave of research should

focus these links and on multiple risks, environmental disasters, and political

economy of the supply of interventions.

Work in Progress

Pakhtigian, E. L., Pattanayak, S. K., and Tan Soo, J.-S. Joint impacts of indoor and outdoor air pollution on health in Indonesia.

Abstract: We examine the effects of indoor air pollution (IAP) and outdoor air pollution (OAP) exposure on health outcomes among children and the elderly in Indonesia. While there exists a well-established, negative relationship between air pollution exposure and health outcomes in the literature, our examination of the joint effects of IAP and OAP provides further insight into the relationship between health and the presence of multiple environmental harms. Health outcomes of days spent in bed, lung capacity, and height for age z-score are used to facilitate comparison across measured and self-reported data. Air pollution data come from the Aerosol Index (AI), used as a measure of OAP exposure, and household primary cooking fuel, used as a proxy for IAP exposure. Using panel data over three waves of the Indonesian Family Life Survey (IFLS), we use fixed effects and the Hausman Taylor estimator to examine the impacts of both pollution types on health outcomes. For children, analyses of the measured health outcomes of lung capacity and HAZ find exposure to both pollution sources have negative effects; results for days in bed do not provide a cohesive pattern across models. We also find preliminary evidence of complementarity of IAP and OAP exposure with respect to lung capacity and HAZ among children.