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Your Environment. Your Health.

An assessment of the benefits of air pollution control: the case of infant health

Environmental Health Economic Analysis Annotated Bibliography


Research article Cost-benefit analysis (CBA)
Joyce TJ, Grossman M, and Goldman F
Journal of Urban Economics
This study estimated the impact of five criteria air pollutants (carbon monoxide, lead, sulfur dioxide, particulates, and nitrogen dioxide) on race-specific neonatal mortality rates across heavily populated counties within the United States in 1977. Results showed that carbon monoxide and total suspended particulates have the most consistently negative impacts on early infant survival. however, when all five pollutants were employed as regressors, sulfur dioxide was the only significant predictor of neonatal mortality. Furthermore, the authors' calculations of a collective marginal willingness to pay estimate (for white and black women) based on declines in sulfur dioxide levels totaled an upper bound estimate of $1.09 billion and a lower bound estimate of $54 million in 1977. The authors suggest that the main contribution of this study is that these estimates were obtained from a well-specified behavioral model of the production of health, which was estimated with the appropriate simultaneous equation techniques.
Not available

Health Outcomes

  • Mortality (race-specific neonatal mortality)

Environmental Agents

List of Environmental Agents:

  • Air pollutants (nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), lead (Pb), sulfur dioxide (SO2), total suspended particulates))

Source of Environmental Agents: (Not available)

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source


  • Cost-benefit analysis (CBA)

Cost Measured:

  • Marginal willingness to pay for declines in air pollutant levels
  • marginal cost of prenatal care
  • marginal cost of neonatal intensive care
  • race-specific neonatal mortality rates

Potential Cost Measures:

  • Indirect costs of neonatal intensive care

Benefits Measures:

  • Increases in neonatal survival rates as a results of decreased air pollutant levels (specifically sulfur dioxide (SO2))

Potential Benefits: (Not available)


  • United States (677 most populated counties in the country in 1970)

Models Used: (Not available)

Methods Used:

  • Researchers measured the impact of air pollution on race-specific neonatal mortality rates (deaths within the first 27 days of life per thousand live births) across heavily populated counties within the United States in 1977. They — 1) obtained population variables from a dataset that pertains to the 677 most populated counties of the United States; 2) obtained air pollution variables and raw data on the criteria air pollutants of interest (CO, Pb, SO2, particulates, and NO2) from EPA's Storage and Retrieval of Aerometric Data (SAROAD); 3) used an algorithm to calculate county-specific estimates of the air pollutants; 4) fitted equations on race-specific neonatal mortality using a two-stage least-squares procedure; and 5) calculated the marginal willingness to pay for declines in SO2 that result in increases in neonatal survival rates.

Sources Used:

  • Behavior of mothers as inputs to child health: determinants of birth weight, gestation, and rate of fetal growth (Rosenzweig et al., 1982); Consumer demand and household production: the relationship between fertility and child mortality (Rosenzweig and Schultz, 1983); Education and household production of child health (Rosenzweig and Schultz, 1981); Estimating a household production function: heterogeneity, the demand for health inputs, and their effects on birth weight (Rosenzweig and Schultz, 1983); Determinants of neonatal mortality rates in the US: a reduced form model (Gorman and Grossman, 1985); EPA's Storage and Retrieval of Aerometric Data (SAROAD); additional sources cited in publication

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source


  • Joyce TJ, Grossman M, and Goldman F. 1989. An assessment of the benefits of air pollution control: the case of infant health. Journal of Urban Economics.
  • Pubmed: (Not available)
  • DOI

NIEHS Funding: (Not available)

Other Funding:

  • Cooperative agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (CR 811041)
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