For more than 30 years, the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE) has recognized works that have an enduring value on environmental and resource economics through their Publication of Enduring Quality award. This year, a study co-authored by EPIC Director Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and director of the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics, won the distinguished award.
The award is presented to nominated authors for studies published at least five years prior based on the seminal nature and enduring value of the study’s findings. Greenstone, along with his co-author Kenneth Chay from Brown University, won the award for their study on “The Impact of Air Pollution on Infant Mortality: Evidence from Geographic Variation in Pollution Shocks Induced by a Recession.”
The study, published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics in 2003, provided one of the first causal estimates of the impact of air pollution on health. Using the 1981-1982 recession because air pollution dropped during that time, Greenstone and Chay found that a one percent reduction in particulate pollution resulted in a 0.35 percent decline in the infant mortality rate at the county level. This implied that the reduced particulate pollution between those years resulted in approximately 2,500 fewer infant deaths than would have occurred without the air pollution reductions.
“This paper helped launch a literature employing quasi-experimental techniques in causal identification of outcomes in environmental economics,” the selection committee stated, “Moreover, the study of pollution on health outcomes, such as mortality, has become one of the most important questions in the field.”
Tom Tietenberg, an economist at Colby College, was also awarded the prize for his book Emissions Trading: An Exercise in Reforming Pollution Policy, published by RFF Press in 1985. AERE was founded in 1979 as a means for exchanging ideas, stimulating research, and promoting graduate training in environmental and resource economics. It currently has over 1,000 members from more than thirty nations who work in academic institutions, the public sector and private industry.