Empirical Economics Work on the Consequences of Lead Exposure

I have been listening to Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir and skimming Mark K’s post on the benefits of reduced lead exposure.  As we seek out public policies to improve the health and learning capabilities for the young, getting the lead out makes a lot of sense.    As you might imagine, the applied economists have written about this topic and I’d like to suggest that folks stop thinking about Paul Ryan for a moment and go to Amherst’s Jessica Reyes’ webpage.   You can read her papers on the nasty consequences of lead including;

1.  Childhood Lead and Academic Performance in Massachusetts

2. Environmental Policy As Social Policy? The Impact of Childhood Lead Exposure on Crime  — this paper impresses me because she uses state/year data to show that the rise in lead emissions predicts rising crime 18 years later as exposed little kids become crime prone adults and the reduction in urban lead in the 1970s predicts the start of the crime reduction (18 years later) when the new generation of little kids are now young adults in the early 1990s.  A theory that can explain rising and falling crime is cool!

Author: Matthew E. Kahn

Professor of Economics at UCLA.