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Toxic Truth: Lead and Fertility

Date and Time

Thursday 04/25/2019 10:00AM to 11:30AM EDT
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Room 1426, William Jefferson Clinton West Building
1301 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001


Contact: Carl Pasurka, 202-566-2275

Presenter:  Karen Clay (Heinz School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University) and Edson Severnini (Heinz School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University)

Description:  Using U.S county level data on lead in air for 1978-1988, this paper provides the first causal evidence on the effects of lead exposure on the general fertility rate and the completed fertility rate in the broad population. Instrumental variable estimates show the increase in completed fertility implied by the average observed decrease in airborne lead is 0.14 children per woman, which is 6.4 percent of mean fertility. To explore the current relevance of our findings, we estimate the effect of lead in topsoil on fertility in the mid-2000s. The results suggest that lead may continue to impair fertility today, both in the United States and in other countries that have significant amounts of lead in topsoil.