Air Pollution Exposure and COVID-19: A Look at Mortality in Mexico City Using Individual-Level Data

Alejandro López-Feldman, Fernanda Márquez Padilla y David Heres, Profesores Investigadores Titulares de la División de Economía del CIDE escribieron este artículo publicado originalmente en la revista SSRN

Abstract

We use individual-level data to estimate the effects of long- and short-term exposure to air pollution (PM2.5) on the probability of dying from COVID-19. To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to look at this relationship using individual-level data. We find that for Mexico City there is evidence of a positive relationship between pollution and mortality that significantly grows with age and that appears to be mostly driven by long- rather than short-term exposure. By using a rich set of individual- and municipal-level controls we are able to isolate the effect of exposure to pollution from other crucial factors, thus alleviating endogeneity concerns related to selection. Our results provide yet another reason for the need to implement environmental strategies that will reduce the exposure to air pollution: it is a key element to improve the general population’s health. In addition, and considering that at this moment we do not know when the pandemic will stop or if SARS-CoV-2 will become a recurrent threat, the relationship that we uncovered suggests that financial resources should be allocated to improve medical services in those areas where PM2.5 concentrations tend to be high.

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