Carneiro, Juliana, Matt Cole, and Eric Strobl. “The Effects of Air Pollution on Students’ Cognitive Performance: Evidence from Brazilian University Entrance Tests.”, forthcoming in Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
We examine the contemporaneous causal relationship between outdoor air pollution levels and student cognitive performance in Brazil’s nationwide university entrance examinations. Our analysis relies upon a unique and previously unexplored student level data set allowing us to examine the effect of particulate matter (PM10) on students’ scores. In our main specification we construct an individual level panel data for the two days of exams across three years and apply student fixed effects to address potential endogeneity concerns. In addition we take advantage of plausibly exogenous spatial and temporal variables. Our results suggest that air pollution negatively impacts the cognitive performance of students. We find suggestive evidence that boys may be more affected than girls, and less well-off exam takers at the bottom of the score distribution are more affected than their priviliged counterparts.