Environmental Regulations, Air and Water Pollution, and Infant Mortality in India

CID Working Paper No. 224

Michael Greenstone and Rema Hanna
July 2011


Using the most comprehensive data file ever compiled on air pollution, water pollution, environmental regulations, and infant mortality from a developing country, the paper examines the effectiveness of India’s environmental regulations. The air pollution regulations were effective at reducing ambient concentrations of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. The most successful air pollution regulation is associated with a modest and statistically insignificant decline in infant mortality. However, the water pollution regulations had no observable effect. Overall, these results contradict the conventional wisdom that environmental quality is a deterministic function of income and underscore the role of institutions and politics.

JEL subject codes: H2, Q5, Q2, O1, R5

Keywords: air pollution; water pollution; benefits of environmental regulations; India