Department of Economics Spring 2018 Brown Bag Series

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Date(s) - 04/16/2018
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Andrew G. Clark Building

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The Brown Bag Seminar Series offers current ECON and DARE graduate students the opportunity to present ongoing research or to workshop new ideas. The seminars are held on Mondays, and some Thursdays, from 12:00-1:00pm in Clark C307 and are open to everyone.

For more information on the series or specific seminars, please contact Melanie Wentzel-Long at or Jordan Navin at

For Monday, 4/16/18’s seminar economics graduate student Chris Keyes will be presenting his paper: “The Long Arm of Lead: Childhood Lead Exposure and Risk Preferences in Adulthood.”

Abstract: The legacy of lead in the United States is complex and intertwined with public health. Though policies motivated by the toxicity of this element have been eective at reducing the social costs of lead exposure, this pollutant remains a persistent hazard in both the developed and developing world. The link between lead exposure and overall reductions in cognitive ability has been extensively studied in the medical field, and recently economists have found evidence linking exposure in childhood to undesirable behaviors, such as impulsivity and impatience, in adolescents. Yet, studies focusing on childhood exposure and outcomes in adulthood are scarce in the literature. This paper aims to explore the extent to which these behaviors, observable in children and adolescents, persist into adulthood. To answer this question, I exploit the quasi-random natural experiment induced by the Environmental Protection Agencies’ phase out of lead from automobile gasoline under the Clean Air Act. While the policy was implemented at the national level, the rate at which lead emissions declined over the phase out was unique to each state. Relying on this identification strategy, I estimate the causal eect of childhood lead exposure on behaviors and risk preferences in adulthood. Incorporating a nationally representative sample of individuals born during this period, and facing signicant variations in their level of lead exposure, my analysis extends the existing literature by modeling these outcomes in adulthood, and at a national scale.

*NOTE – This Brown Bag seminar will be held in Clark C364.*