Institute for Economic and Social Research

Seminar | Xinming Du, National University of Singapore


Time: 2024/04/22 (Mon.), 10:30 – 11:00 (Beijing Time)

Title:  Trade, Trees, and Health

Venue: 406 Zengxianzi Science Hall

About the speaker:

Xinming Du is an environmental economist and an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore Department of Economics. Her ongoing research covers three topics: 1) how trade affects pollution and natural resource depletion; 2) the impacts and adaptation to emerging pollution sources; 3) methane leakage and greenwashing activities of fossil fuel companies. Xinming holds a PhD degree in Sustainable Development from Columbia University, and bachelor degree in Economics and Environmental Engineering from Tsinghua University. She worked as a short-term consultant at the chief economist office at the World Bank and a summer intern at the International Monetary Fund.



Large-scale economic production activities deplete natural capital, but methods to account for the downstream environmental and health ramifications are lacking. This paper presents an empirically-grounded framework to establish the link between agricultural exports, forest losses, and the health consequences of such deforestation. Our analysis draws on two decades of publicly available data from Brazil and proceeds in three steps. First, using a shift-share approach, we estimate the causal effect of agricultural exports on local deforestation, predominantly for agricultural expansion. Second, we present a tractable aero-connectivity analysis that traces the trajectories of air currents over time and space. This allows us to identify significant upwind and downwind relationships spanning distances of thousands of miles. Third, we exploit month-over-month variability in these wind linkages to estimate the causal effect of upwind deforestation on increases in air pollutants and premature deaths in downwind areas, which we show are driven primarily by cardiovascular and respiratory causes. Together, our estimates imply that trade-induced deforestation has led to over 500,000 premature deaths in Brazil over the past two decades. This equates to approximately $0.14 loss in statistical life value per $1 increase in agricultural exports.


Copyright © 2019 Institute for Economic and Social Research ICP record No.: Yue ICP Bei No. 12087612