The Unintended Impacts of Agricultural Fires: Human Capital in China
Journal of Development Economics
Joshua Graff Zivin, Tong Liu, Yingquan Song, Qu Tang, Peng Zhang
The practice of burning agricultural waste is ubiquitous around the world, yet the external human capital costs from those fires have been underexplored. Using data from the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) and agricultural fires in China from 2005 to 2011, this paper investigates the impacts of fires on cognitive performance. We find that a one-standard-deviation increase in the difference between upwind and downwind fires during the exam decreases the total exam score by 1.42 percent of a standard deviation (or 0.6 points), and further decreases the probability of getting into first-tier universities by 0.51 percent of a standard deviation.