NBER

Sam Heft-Neal

Center on Food Security and the Environment
Stanford University
473 Via Ortega
Stanford, CA 94305

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Stanford University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

June 2020The Changing Risk and Burden of Wildfire in the US
with Marshall Burke, Anne Driscoll, Jenny Xue, Jennifer Burney, Michael Wara: w27423
Recent dramatic and deadly increases in global wildfire activity have increased attention on the causes of wildfires, their consequences, and how risk from fire might be mitigated. Here we bring together data on the changing risk and societal burden of wildfire in the US. We estimate that nearly 50 million homes are currently in the wildland-urban interface in the US, a number increasing by 1 million houses every 3 years. Using a statistical model that links satellite-based fire and smoke data to pollution monitoring stations, we estimate that wildfires have accounted for up to 25% of PM2.5 in recent years across the US, and up to half in some Western regions. We then show that ambient exposure to smoke-based PM2.5 does not follow traditional socioeconomic exposure gr...
July 2019Air Pollution and Infant Mortality: Evidence from Saharan Dust
with Jennifer Burney, Eran Bendavid, Kara Voss, Marshall Burke: w26107
Accurate estimation of air quality impacts on health outcomes is critical for guiding policy choices to mitigate such damages. Estimation poses an empirical challenge, however, because local economic activity can simultaneously generate changes in both air quality and in health impacts that are independent of air quality, confounding pollution-health estimates. To address this challenge, we leverage plausibly exogenous variation in local particulate matter exposure across sub-Saharan Africa due to dust export from the Bodele Depression, a remote Saharan region responsible for a substantial share of global atmospheric dust. Large scale transport of this dust is uncorrelated with local emissions sources and allows us to isolate the causal impact of air quality on infant mortality across Sub-...

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