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Essays on Health Economics: Health consequences of working conditions, obesogenic environments, and exposure to air pollution

Libuy Ríos, Nicolás Humberto; (2021) Essays on Health Economics: Health consequences of working conditions, obesogenic environments, and exposure to air pollution. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis aims to answer the question of how socio-economic and environmental factors affect health and healthy behaviours by evaluating the impact of working conditions, air pollution and obesogenic environments. Using rich longitudinal data from Chile and the UK, throughout the three chapters in this thesis, I provide causal evidence on key policy-relevant parameters in three topics in Health Economics. The first essay studies the impact of reducing the standard workweek duration from 48 to 45 hours, resulting from the 2005 Chilean labour reform, on healthy behaviours and self-assessed health. Using a longitudinal difference-in-difference research design combined with propensity score matching, I find that the reform reduced smoking behaviours but did not impact self-assessed health. Furthermore, when I evaluate the heterogeneous effects, I find that the reform increased the probability of doing physical activity among women and workers without tertiary education. Using Chilean longitudinal data, the second essay studies the association between air pollution, health at birth and cognitive performance during childhood. I use an instrumental variable strategy that exploits changes in lifetime exposure to air pollution resulting from variation in the geographical location, the timing of birth, the timing of the cognitive test, and exposure to thermal inversions-- an atmospheric phenomena that increase concentrations of air pollution at ground level. I find that higher levels of air pollution during pregnancy harm health at birth and during childhood, and are detrimental to cognitive performance, especially among children with respiratory problems. The third essay evaluates whether proximity to fast food restaurants affects childhood obesity rates in the UK. Using the Millennium Cohort Study linked with highly granular geographic microdata, I find that living near fast food restaurants is associated with a higher Body Mass Index and more body fat. I further provide evidence that the supply of fast food near schools during secondary school increases obesity.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Essays on Health Economics: Health consequences of working conditions, obesogenic environments, and exposure to air pollution
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10122550
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