Local Industrial Shocks and Infant Morality

April 01, 2018

Anja Benshaul-Tolonen


Local industrial development has the potential to improve health and well-being, while also damaging health through exposure to harmful pollution. It is an empirical question which of these effects dominate. Exploiting the quasi-experimental expansion of African large-scale gold mining, I find that local infant mortality rates decrease by more than 50% alongside rapid economic growth. The instantaneous reduction is comparable to overall gains in infant survival rates in the study countries from 1970 to today. The results are robust to migration. Local industrial development—despite risk of pollution—may be an effective tool to reduce infant mortality in developing countries.

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Published in The Economic JournalVolume 129, Issue 620, May 2019, Pages 1561–1592.