A. Aizer, BU - Department Friday Seminar  Add To Calendar

  • Dates: 29 – 29 Sep, 2017
Department Friday Seminar, 11:00am - 12:30pm, UH850

Presenter: Anna Aizer, Brown University

Lead and Juvenile Delinquency: New Evidence from Linked Birth, School and Juvenile Detention Records

Using a unique dataset linking preschool blood lead levels (BLLs), birth, school, and detention
records for 125,000 children born between 1990 and 2004 in Rhode Island, we estimate the
impact of lead on behavior: school suspensions and juvenile detention. Sibling fixed effect
models suggest that with our rich set of controls, omitted variables related to family disadvantage
is not a major source of bias to OLS estimates. However, measurement error is. To address bias
from omitted variables and measurement error we use IV methods that exploit very local, within
neighborhood, variation in lead exposure that derives from road proximity and the de-leading of
gasoline. We find that OLS understates the negative effects of lead, suggesting that measurement
error is more important than bias from omitted variables. Our estimates are only significantly
different from zero for boys. For boys, a one-unit increase in lead increased the probability of
suspension from school by roughly 6 percent and the probability of detention by 57 percent.