Seminar Statistics and Econometrics

Climate Change, Pollution and Human Health

Lehrende/r: Prof. Dr. Reyn van Ewijk; Fabienne Pradella

Veranstaltungsart: Hauptseminar

Anzeige im Stundenplan: S:Stat.&Econometrics

Semesterwochenstunden: 2

Unterrichtssprache: Englisch

Min. | Max. Teilnehmerzahl: - | -

Voraussetzungen / Organisatorisches:
It is assumed that participating students have a solid background in microeconometric methods.

In this seminar we explore how the environment we live in affects health, including cognitive health, and other human capital outcomes. Thereby, 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. 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 correlated with increased childhood mortality, is this causal? Or is it due to omitted variables? You will become acquainted with the highly interdisciplinary young research field “Planetary Health”. 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 the climate crisis, a main challenge of today’s society.

Each student will become an expert on a particular topic (e.g. “associations between heat and test scores”). In a seminar paper, students will in-depth analyze two empirical studies on that topic, with a focus on how the authors attempt to identify causal effects. During the seminar sessions, we will discuss about the different subjects and think critically about how causality problems can be solved. Each student will chair one of these seminar sessions: the session during which we discuss about the topic on which you have become an expert.

In a nutshell, we will thus explore the effects of changes in the natural environment on human health from an econometrician’s perspective. In practice, this usually involves more than merely an application of 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. 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 together develop a problem-solving attitude towards approaching research questions.

Please note that a solid background in microeconometrics is essential for this course.

Empfohlene Literatur:

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.


Zusätzliche Informationen:


Fabienne Pradella (fapradel”at”
Prof. Dr. Reyn Joris van Ewijk (vanewijk"at"