Journal of Public Health

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 313–321 | Cite as

Coal power plant emission exposure and its effect on education access

  • Anton Bekkerman
  • Jake R. Morgan
Original Article



We investigate the effects of exposure to coal power plant emissions on school absenteeism for children with asthma, a leading cause of health-related barriers to education.

Subject and methods

We combine responses from the 2007–2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey with coal power plant emission data to estimate a zero negative binomial regression model of school absences and investigate misspecification bias associated with naive assumptions about emission dispersion and self-selection into treatment groups.


The results show a robust, positive relationship (P < 0.001) between increases in emission exposure and the likelihood of a school absence due to an asthma episode. Exposure to higher emission volumes is associated with a 1.92–4.81 % higher likelihood of missing an additional school day. Furthermore, assuming uniform emission dispersion and not controlling for self-selection underestimates the effects by 2.72–4.27 times.


Access to education and the ability to develop human capital through schooling are affected for children with respiratory illnesses who are exposed to emissions. Public policies for emission regulation are likely to remain relevant for lowering pediatric respiratory health risks and lowering barriers to educational opportunities.


Asthma call back survey Pediatric asthma Power plant emissions School attendance Spatial identification 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Economics and EconomicsMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA
  2. 2.Boston University School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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