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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Allen Goodman


Several methods are used to estimate the health costs of environmental degradation. In this research, the impacts of quality of the environment, mainly air pollution, on the U.S. health care expenditures is studied with statistical methods. I estimated the relationship between Medicare costs and a set of county level environmental, health behavior, and socioeconomic factors. The Medicare costs of PM2.5 was estimated with several models such as Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition method. In addition, an income analysis at the county level shows that low income and minority populations receive more damage costs from the air pollution as well as gain more social benefit with environmental improvement investments. At individual level, using BRFSS data and county level pollution, I found a strong association between mental health and PM2.5 among all income and county groups. Adding the costs of avoidance behavior would reduce the problem of under-estimation of the costs of environmental degradation. Another finding of the study is the robust evidence for the presence of avoidance and adaptation behaviors. I then estimate the magnitude of some cases of avoidance behaviors at county and individual level.

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