Air Pollution and Migration: Exploiting a Natural Experiment from the Czech Republic

CERGE-EI Working Paper Series No. 714

55 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2021

See all articles by Štěpán Mikula

Štěpán Mikula

Department of Economics, Masaryk University

Mariola Pytliková

VSB - Technical University of Ostrava - Faculty of Economics; Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI); University College London - CReAM - Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Charles University in Prague - CERGE-EI (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute)

Date Written: December 1, 2021

Abstract

This paper examines the causal effects of air pollution on migration by exploiting a natural experiment in which desulfurization technologies were rapidly implemented in coal-burning power plants in the Czech Republic in the 1990s. These technologies substantially decreased air pollution levels without per se affecting economic activity. The results based on a difference-in-differences estimator imply that improvements in air quality reduced emigration from previously heavily polluted municipalities by 24%. We find that the effect of air pollution on emigration tended to be larger in municipalities with weaker social capital and fewer man-made amenities. Thus, our results imply that strengthening social capital and investing in better facilities and public services could partially mitigate depopulation responses to air pollution. Finally, we look at heterogeneous migratory responses to air pollution by education and age and find some evidence that the more educated tend to be more sensitive to air pollution in their settlement behavior.

Keywords: Air pollution, migration, natural experiment

JEL Classification: Q53, J61, O15

Suggested Citation

Mikula, Štěpán and Pytliková, Mariola and Pytliková, Mariola, Air Pollution and Migration: Exploiting a Natural Experiment from the Czech Republic (December 1, 2021). CERGE-EI Working Paper Series No. 714, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3996190 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3996190

Štěpán Mikula (Contact Author)

Department of Economics, Masaryk University ( email )

Lipova 41a
Brno, 60200
Czech Republic
11640 (Fax)

Mariola Pytliková

VSB - Technical University of Ostrava - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Sokolska 33
Ostrava 1, 701 21
Czech Republic

Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI) ( email )

Zvolenská 29
Bratislava, 82109
Slovakia

University College London - CReAM - Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration ( email )

Drayton House
30 Gordon Street
London, WC1H 0AX
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Charles University in Prague - CERGE-EI (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute) ( email )

P.O. Box 882
7 Politickych veznu
Prague 1, 111 21
Czech Republic

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