India’s Coal Expansion and Child Health

Sangita Vyas , University of Texas at Austin

India is one of the largest consumers of coal. Between 2007 and 2018, India's installed coal capacity almost tripled. This represents a rapid increase in the number of coal-fired power plants in the country, and the associated increases in air pollution present potentially large negative health externalities. This study investigates the impact of the expansion in coal plant capacity on child height, an indicator for early-life health. This study uses a dataset on coal plant capacity and India’s most recent Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) to exploit changes in exposure to coal plant capacity within villages over time. I find that each additional median-sized coal plant of 1,000 MW is associated with a decrease in height-for-age z-score of 0.07 to 0.08 points. Since child height is an important economic variable predicting adult human capital, cognitive achievement, and health, India’s recent coal expansion has important consequences for human development in India.

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 Presented in Session 11. Health & Mortality 2