The effect of low emission zones on air pollution and infant health

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This paper investigates the effect of low emission zones on air quality and birth outcomes in Germany. The staggered introduction of the policy measure creates a credible natural experiment and a natural control group for births and air pollution measurements in cities that enact low emission zones. I show that the introduction of the most restrictive type of low emission zone decreases average levels of fine particulate matter by about 4 percent and by up to 8 percent at a city's highest-polluting monitor. Low emission zones also reduce the number of days per year on which legal pollution limits are exceeded by three. However, these reductions are too small to translate into substantial improvements in infant health. My results are not driven by changes in maternal or city specific characteristics, and are robust to variations in specification and to the choice of control group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-144
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Environmental Economics and Management
Early online date9 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2017


  • air pollution
  • particulate matter
  • birth weight
  • infant health
  • policy evaluation

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