Rohlf, A., Holub, F., Koch, N., Ritter, N.

The effect of clean air on pharmaceutical expenditures

in Economics Letters, 22.05.2020

Peer Review , Sustainable Resource Management and Global Change

Airborne emissions are detrimental to health. Low emission zones (LEZs) that restrict pollution-intensive vehicles from entering are popular measures to curb local emissions such as particulate matter. We evaluate how LEZs impact defensive pharmaceutical expenditures. To this end, we use the complete medical histories of 2.7M individuals insured with Germany’s largest public health insurer AOK. We identify causal effects exploiting the quasi-experimental, staggered introduction of LEZs in 49 cities. We find that LEZs reduce annual pharmaceutical expenditures for heart and respiratory diseases by 15.8M€, representing a significant fraction of policy costs.