Seminar Statistics and Econometrics SS 2022

Climate Change, Pollution, and Human Health

Seminar description

In this seminar we explore how the environment we live in affects health, including cognitive health, and other human capital outcomes. Thereby, very different dimensions of the biophysical changes induced by as well as causing the degradation of the biosphere will be in the focus of our attention, including (air) pollution, biodiversity loss and variation in weather such as natural disasters. Identifying and understanding the associations between the natural environment and human health is key to developing targeted policies that aim to mitigate as well as adapt to climate change, a main challenge of today’s society.

Economists are increasingly contributing to research on the effects of climate change and pollution on health. A main focus in such studies is proving causality. For example: if air pollution is associated with increased childhood mortality, is this causal? Or is it due to omitted variables? You will become acquainted with the young research field “Planetary Health”, which is highly interdisciplinary and also combines insights from other disciplines such as epidemiology or sociology.

Each student will in-depth analyze two empirical studies and in this way learn about the econometrician’s approach to proving causality in the field of climate change/pollution and health. In practice, this usually involves more than merely an application of some statistical techniques. Though these are involved too, it also involves a clever thinking about the potential threats to causality, and about ways of demonstrating that causality holds. Based on their analyses, the students will discuss implications for policies and together compile a policy brief.

In a nutshell, we will thus explore the effects of changes in the natural environment on human health from an econometrician’s perspective. This seminar has different learning goals. First, to understand the econometric techniques used in the different papers and how they are applied to prove causality. Second, students will learn about how climate change and pollution affect human health. Third, we will deal with how study results can be transformed into policy recommendations.


Introductory Meeting 21.04.2022, 10:00 - 12:00 a.m., HS IX (1 -331)
Intermediate meetings:
  • 26.04.2022, 12.00-14.00 Uhr, HS VI (00-311)
  • 21.06.2022,12.00-14.00 Uhr, HS VIII (1-341)
  • 19.07.2022, 09:00-14:00 Uhr, HS VI (00-311)
  • 20.07.2022, 09:00-14:00 Uhr, RW 6 (01-130)
Presentations tba

Technical literature

Huntington-Klein, N. (2022). The Effect. An Introduction to Research Design and Causality. Chapman and Hall/CRC.
This book is available online (for free): The Effect: An Introduction to Research Design and Causality | The Effect (
• Cunningham, S. (2021). Causal Inference. The Mixtape. Yale University Press.
This book is available online (for free): Welcome | Causal Inference (
• For the details: Angrist, J. & Pischke, J. (2008). Mostly harmless econometrics: An empiricist's companion. Princeton university press.
• For the basics: Stock, J.H. & Watson M.M. (2014). Introduction to Econometrics. Pearson. Updated 3rd edition.

Background literature

World Health Organization (2021). 2021 WHO health and climate change global survey report. Geneva: World Health Organization.
• Zivin, J.G., and Neidell, Ml. (2013). Environment, Health, and Human Capital. Journal of Economic Literature, 51(3), 689-730.