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Environmental Regulation, Pollution, and Public Health

Zhao, Xiaoxi (2017) Environmental Regulation, Pollution, and Public Health. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In the first chapter, I investigate the effects of the Residential Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act. Enacted in 1996, the lead hazard disclosure policy requires sellers and landlords to disclose known lead-based paint hazards to potential buyers or renters. Employing a difference-in-differences approach, I find evidence that the law prompted some families with children to reallocate toward homes without significant lead risks, increased lead mitigation in rental properties, and reduced blood-lead levels among children in rental properties. However, because white families appear to be more responsive to information disclosure than other groups, the information disclosure law might exacerbate racial disparities in lead exposure.

In the second chapter, I estimate the spatio-temporal dynamics between wildfire and infant birthweight. Exposure to wildfire smoke is determined using the latitude and longitude coordinates of each infant's home address and a fine-scaled, spatial dataset of wildfire smoke plumes re-constructed in GIS from satellite images of the landscape. Using a difference-in-differences estimation strategy, model estimates show that wildfire smoke leads to a 4% to 6% reduction in birthweight. These effects are most pronounced among mothers exposed during their second and third trimesters of pregnancy and attenuate with respect to distance to a fire. We find no statistically significant relationships between proximity to wildfire and the birthweights of infants located outside the path of wildfire smoke.

In the third chapter, I examine the relationship between hurricanes, the salience of flood risk, and residential property investment. Utilizing a difference-in-differences estimation strategy, I find a significant increase in the probability a homeowner invests in a damaged building located in a statutorily designated flood risk area. However, I find no change in the rate of property investment in damaged homes located outside of these areas. Results suggest that a recent storm may elevate households' perceptions of flood risk; however, we show that the primary mechanism driving these changes is a household's exposure to storm damage. We find no evidence of saliency effects in regions less proximate to storm damage. These findings cast doubt on the potential for an information-based regulation to align risk-perceptions with risk-actualities.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Zhao, Xiaoxixiz96@pitt.eduxiz96
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWalsh,
Committee MemberTroesken,
Committee MemberBeresteanu,
Committee MemberWeber,
Date: 2 July 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 31 March 2017
Approval Date: 2 July 2017
Submission Date: 6 March 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 195
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Economics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Environmental regulation, public health, housing, pollution
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2017 21:06
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2017 21:06

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