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The Consequences of Industrialization: Evidence from Water Pollution and Digestive Cancers in China

Avraham Ebenstein

The Review of Economics and Statistics, 2012, vol. 94, issue 1, 186-201

Abstract: China's rapid industrialization has led to a severe deterioration in water quality in the country's lakes and rivers. By exploiting variation in pollution across China's river basins, I estimate that a deterioration of water quality by a single grade (on a six-grade scale) increases the digestive cancer death rate by 9.7%. The analysis rules out other potential explanations such as smoking rates, dietary patterns, and air pollution. I estimate that doubling China's levy rates for wastewater dumping would save roughly 17,000 lives per year but require an additional [dollar]500 million in annual spending on wastewater treatment. © 2011 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Date: 2012
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The Review of Economics and Statistics is currently edited by Amitabh Chandra, Olivier Coibion, Bryan S. Graham, Shachar Kariv, Amit K. Khandelwal, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, Brigitte C. Madrian and Rohini Pande

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