"Resource Extraction and Infant Health: Evidence from Colorado", by Elaine L. Hill '05 (Cornell).
The benefits and costs of resource extraction are currently being hotly debated in the case of shale gas development (commonly known as "fracking"). Colorado provides a unique research environment given its long history of conventional oil and gas extraction and, most recently, shale gas development. Building upon the first paper to find a causal relationship between shale gas development and infant health in Pennsylvania (Hill 2012), this paper uses Colorado to explore health at birth implications of other shale plays and explores the risks associated with shale development compared with other forms of drilling. To define exposure, I utilize detailed vital statistics and mother's residential address to define close proximity to drilling activity and controls for historical drilling. Using a difference-in-differences approach, this paper compares health at birth of infants born to residences within 1km of the well head versus 2 km to identify the intensive margin of drilling. The paper also utilizes a triple difference estimator to determine the relative human health risks of different types of drilling (horizontal/vertical and conventional/unconventional). Exploiting both the inter-temporal and cross-sectional variance in the presence of resource extraction in Colorado, I find that proximity to wells reduces birth weight and gestation length on average and increases the prevalence of low birth weight and premature birth.
Sponsored by the Economics Dept Danforth-Lewis Speakers Series.
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