Monday, September 29, 2014

New research: The local wealth and health effects of mining in developing countries

New research of two students of Columbia University: Jan von der Goltz and Prabhat Barnwal on:

The Local Wealth and Health Effects of Mining in Developing Countries

Do residents of mining communities face health-wealth trade-offs? We conduct the first extensive assessment of this question using micro-data from communities near about 800 mineral mines in 44 developing countries. Mining communities enjoy a substantial medium-term rise in asset wealth (0.3σ), but experience a ten percentage point increase in anemia among adult women, and a five percentage point increase in the prevalence of stunting in young children. Prior evidence links both of these health impacts to metal toxicity – and in particular, exposure to high levels of lead. We find no systematic evidence of general ill health in mining communities, and we observe health impacts only near mines of a type where metal pollution is to be expected. Benefits and costs are strongly concentrated in the immediate vicinity (≤ 5km) of a mine. We employ seven distinct identification strategies. Baseline results come from a cross-sectional group effects model, and mine-level and mother-level panels. An in- strumental variables approach serves as a robustness check. To demonstrate that the observed health impacts are due to pollution, we develop three difference-in-difference tests tailored to the known association of certain mine types with heavy metal pollution, and to the pathophysiology of lead toxicity. Our results add to the nascent literature on health impacts near industrial operations in developing countries.

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