Fire, Wind, and Smoke: Impact of Crop-Residue Burning on Infant Mortality in India

Hemant Pullabhotla

Farmers across many parts of the developing world clear wide swaths of agricultural land by burning the crop stubble leftover in the field after harvest from the previous season, contributing to particulate emissions. Limited evidence exists on the impact of such fires on human health and mortality, particularly at a national level. In this paper, I use satellite data on the location of more than 800,000 agricultural fires over a ten-year period along with infant mortality data from geocoded household survey of nearly half a million households from India. I exploit the variation in the location and timing of fires, along with satellite data on wind direction to identify the effect of exposure to up-wind fires. I find that exposure to agricultural fires during late pregnancy months increases infant mortality by more than 9 percent on average, with households in rural areas being the most affected.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 91. Agriculture and Child Mortality