Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Long-Term Health Effects of Oil Discoveries: Evidence from China

Raveh, Ohad and Zhang, Yan (2022): The Long-Term Health Effects of Oil Discoveries: Evidence from China.

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Does the discovery and operation of a nearby oil field carry long-term health consequences? Existing studies focus primarily on relatively short-term impacts, and disregard potential effects of mobility-driven external influences. We fill this gap by capitalizing on the unique features of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study, which provides a comprehensive health survey of Chinese individuals while tracking the location of their residence over their lifetime. Matching the latter with the location of giant oil field discoveries, we undertake a difference-in-differences analysis of individuals born before and after a discovery, basing the treatment on proximity, to examine the impact of discoveries made as early as 1938 on objective health outcomes reported in 2011-2018. Our identification strategy rests on the plausible exogeneity of the timing, location, and exploitation of discoveries, and the examination of individuals who did not change residence locations for long periods since birth. We find that a discovery made within a range of approximately 60km significantly decreases the relative average long-run health conditions of individuals born after it, although these individuals are younger, and were born into a more developed environment. Specifically, their average share of individuals diagnosed with a chronic disease increases, in relative terms, by 25% in the long term. This effect is observed most notably in diseases related to the respiratory, digestive, and urinary systems.

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