Published Journal Articles

Yusuke Kuwayama, Sheila M.Olmstead, Derek C. Wietelman and Jiameng Zheng, 2020. Trends in nutrient-related pollution as a source of potential water quality damages: A case study of Texas, USA. Science of The Total Environment, 724, p.137962.

Non-Peer Reviewed Publications

Libin Zhang, Sheng Shao, Fang Dong, and Jiameng Zheng, 2020. Access to Water for Hydraulic Fracturing in China. In Regulating Water Security in Unconventional Oil and Gas (pp. 113-134). Springer, Cham.

Working Papers

Lead ex­po­sure, hu­man cap­i­tal for­ma­tion, and in­equal­ity: the im­pacts of lead ex­po­sure on long-run la­bor mar­ket out­comes (JOB MARKET PAPER)

This pa­per es­ti­mates the short-run and long-run im­pacts of early child­hood lead ex­po­sure from drink­ing wa­ter on ed­u­ca­tional out­comes, the spa­tial and de­mo­graphic dis­tri­b­u­tion of these im­pacts, and the wel­fare im­pacts of lead abate­ment poli­cies. I merge data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on lead vi­o­la­tions un­der the Safe Drinking Water Act with data on in­di­vid­ual stan­dard test scores, ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment, and wages from re­stric­tive-use Texas data. I also match lead con­cen­tra­tion in drink­ing wa­ter with Blood Lead Levels (BLLs) data, ed­u­ca­tion and la­bor-mar­ket out­comes for a sub­group of in­di­vid­u­als for whom we can iden­tify their drink­ing wa­ter provider in Texas to un­der­stand the dose-re­sponse im­pacts of lead in drink­ing wa­ter. I find that lead ex­po­sure at birth from drink­ing wa­ter has significant neg­a­tive im­pact on stu­dents’ 3rd grade stan­dard test scores. In the long run, it also significantly re­duce the high school grad­u­a­tion rate.

A more com­pre­hen­sive es­ti­mate of the value of wa­ter qual­ity

Prior work sug­gests that, un­like air pol­lu­tion reg­u­la­tion, the mar­ginal cost of am­bi­ent wa­ter pol­lu­tion reg­u­la­tion in the United States of­ten ex­ceeds its mar­ginal benefit. This pa­per pro­vides some in­tu­ition, the­ory and em­pir­i­cal ev­i­dence sug­gest­ing that the typ­i­cal he­do­nic prop­erty model — a com­mon re­vealed-pref­er­ence ap­proach in the lit­er­a­ture valu­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal ameni­ties — may tend to un­der­state MWTP for the im­proved recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties that bet­ter wa­ter qual­ity affords to lo­cal home­own­ers. Using the case of nu­tri­ent pol­lu­tion in Tampa Bay, Florida, we es­ti­mate MWTP for wa­ter qual­ity im­prove­ments by com­bin­ing a recre­ation de­mand model with a he­do­nic hous­ing model, al­low­ing house­holds to op­ti­mize over re­gional aquatic recre­ation op­por­tu­ni­ties (influenced by pol­lu­tion in recre­ational wa­ters) as well as am­bi­ent wa­ter qual­ity very close to homes. Results in­di­cate that home­own­ers have significant MWTP for both im­prove­ments in lo­cal am­bi­ent wa­ter qual­ity and im­prove­ments in re­gional recre­ational wa­ters. Our recre­ational benefit es­ti­mates are much larger than those we es­ti­mate for lo­cal amenity val­ues, sug­gest­ing that prior he­do­nic stud­ies may un­der­es­ti­mate the value of wa­ter pol­lu­tion con­trol.

Suicide and Lithium in the Public Water Supply of 870 US Counties

Several stud­ies have re­ported that sui­cide rates are lower in ar­eas with higher con­cen­tra­tions of lithium in drink­ing wa­ter. Some au­thors have rec­om­mended adding lithium to the pub­lic wa­ter sup­ply. We es­ti­mate the as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween sui­cide and drink­ing-wa­ter lithium in the largest dataset yet used for this pur­pose. In 870 US coun­ties, we regress county sui­cide rates on lithium con­cen­tra­tions in ground­wa­ter and sur­face wa­ter. We con­trol for spa­tial cor­re­la­tion and county-level cor­re­lates of sui­cide rates, in­clud­ing eco­nomic con­di­tions and re­li­gious, racial, and eth­nic com­po­si­tion. With or with­out co­vari­ates, we find no significant as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween county sui­cide rates and the con­cen­tra­tion of lithium in the wa­ter sup­ply. Our re­sults do not sup­port a pol­icy of adding lithium to the wa­ter sup­ply.

Policy in­stru­ments for wa­ter pol­lu­tion con­trol in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries

This pa­per sur­veys the eco­nomic the­ory be­hind reg­u­la­tory and other so­lu­tions to the stark am­bi­ent wa­ter pol­lu­tion prob­lems that ex­ist in many de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, and what is known from the em­pir­i­cal eco­nom­ics lit­er­a­ture about the effec­tive­ness of these so­lu­tions. We also con­sider chal­lenges for wa­ter pol­lu­tion con­trol poli­cies that may be specific to de­vel­op­ing coun­try set­tings and sum­ma­rizes gaps in the em­pir­i­cal lit­er­a­ture on wa­ter pol­lu­tion pol­icy im­pacts in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

Works in Progress

Do River Chiefs Reduce Surface Water Pollution in China?

In 2016, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment in China passed on new pol­icy ap­point­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment officials as river chiefs across the coun­try, mak­ing them re­spon­si­ble for wa­ter re­source man­age­ment. The river chief mech­a­nism as­signs each sec­tion of rivers and lakes in China with river chiefs by the end of 2018. Since the an­nounce­ment of this new pol­icy, an on­go­ing de­bate has be­gun on the pos­si­ble effec­tive­ness of river chiefs in re­duc­ing pol­lu­tion. In this pa­per, I con­tribute to the de­bate by em­pir­i­cally in­ves­ti­gat­ing the effect of the River Chief Mechanism on wa­ter qual­ity in China. I con­struct a data set com­bin­ing sur­face wa­ter qual­ity data from var­i­ous sources in China and col­lect data on the dates each province and city make ini­tial an­nounce­ments of its river chiefs. An event study analy­sis is per­formed to un­der­stand the im­pact of river chief as­sign­ment on wa­ter qual­ity.

Subway open­ing and air qual­ity in China

Using data on sub­way open­ings and daily air qual­ity in China from 2002-2017, we mea­sure the im­pact of sub­way open­ings on air qual­ity. Existing stud­ies have linked sub­way open­ings to air qual­ity im­prove­ments in both de­vel­oped and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. But some stud­ies found het­ero­ge­neous im­pacts of sub­way open­ings in Chinese cities. This study adds to the lit­er­a­ture by fo­cus­ing on sub­way open­ings and ex­ten­sions to all Chinese cities from 2002-2017. Using traffic con­ges­tion data, we also test for the mech­a­nism that could ex­plain the im­pacts of sub­way open­ings on air qual­ity.