Jeffrey Cheah Professor of South-East Asia Studies
Much of what we know about the marginal effect of pollution on infant mortality is derived from
developed country data. However, given the lower levels of air pollution in developed countries,
these estimates may not be externally valid to the developing country context if there is a nonlinear
dose relationship between pollution and mortality or if the costs of avoidance behavior
differs considerably between the two contexts. In this paper, we estimate the relationship
between pollution and infant mortality using data from Mexico. We find that an increase of 1
parts per billion in carbon monoxide (CO) over the last week results in 0.0032 deaths per
100,000 births, while a 1 µg/m3 increase in particulate matter (PM10) results in 0.24 infant deaths
per 100,000 births. Our estimates for PM10 tend to be similar (or even smaller) than the U.S.
estimates, while our findings on CO tend to be larger than those derived from the U.S. context.
We provide suggestive evidence that a non-linearity in the relationship between CO and health
explains this difference.
Arceo, Eva, Rema Hanna, and Paulina Oliva. "Does the Effect of Pollution on Infant Mortality Differ Between Developing and Developed Countries? Evidence from Mexico City." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP12-050, November 2012.