Research Program Area: Economic Analysis
Ozone levels in the South Coast Air Basin of Southern California have fallen substantially over the past decade, but the region continues to violate state and federal air quality standards on a significant number of days. The recent health literature reports associations between ozone and school absences, among other adverse effects on children. Estimates are reported here of differences in: the number of days of all illness-related absences and the number of days of respiratory-illness related absences; the direct economic loss to families of those absences; and the economic loss resulting from respiratory related hospitalizations and asthma-related emergency room visits. Differences in the number of these effects associated with improvements in air quality are reported for the interval 1990-92 to 1997-99 and for rolling three-year intervals to 1997-99 across that period. The benefits of reduced absences resulting from future attainment of the state 1-hour standard are also estimated. The population cohort is children aged 5-18 residing in the South Coast Air Basin in 1998.
The results show that there have been significant benefits to schoolchildren in the South Coast Air Basin as ambient ozone levels have fallen over the past decade. For the 1998 school-aged population, there would have been more than three million more school absences annually in 1999 had ozone levels not decreased from the baseline interval of 1990-92 to 1997-99 levels. As population increased and more children enrolled in year round and summer school programs, the benefits of ozone reductions increased relative to air quality improvements. The economic value of fewer school absences ranges from $156 million annually to more than $330 million annually, with a best estimate of $245 million. This represents a benefit of nearly $75, on average, for every school child in the region.
For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753
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