A big congratulations to Adriana Lleras-Muney, who recently received an R21 grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to study the health impacts of long-run exposure to pollution using evidence from military personnel. The R21 grant mechanism is intended to encourage exploratory and developmental research by providing support for the early and conceptual stages of project development. A summary of her research can be found below.
Summary: A large body of observational studies link long-term pollution exposure to health harms, most notably mortality from cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. However these studies have some limitations. One factor that has not been studied much is the potential for confounding due to people’s ability to choose where they live. Indeed previous work finds that people with more information and greater resources are more likely to move to locations with lower pollution. This raises the question of whether poor health is caused by long-term exposure to pollution or by other factors correlated withpollution. In this project, we aim to address these issues of residential confounding by focusing on military personnel. Military personnel are an ideal group for this purpose because they are constrained in their ability to choose residential locations to avoid pollution—their moves are determined by the needs of the Army. Therefore, pollution exposures for this group are likely to be independent from the multitude of other factors that affect health. Moreover, military personnel have uniform access to health care, such that the outcomes we study are unlikely to reflect access to care or ability to pay, but instead reflect underlying demand for medical care due to disease. Additionally, rich administrative data enables us to track the location and health care usage of personnel over long periods of time.