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Air Pollution & Migration: Exploiting a Natural Experiment from the Czech Republic

Working Paper
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This paper from Štěpán Mikula (Masaryk University) and Mariola Pytliková (EconPol Europe, CERGE-EI) examines causal effects of air pollution on migration by exploiting a unique natural experiment of desulfurization of power plants in the region of North Bohemia in the Czech Republic after the fall of communism in 1989. They find that anti-emigration policies had no impact on emigration decisions, but the effect of air pollution on emigration tended to be stronger in municipalities with weaker social capital and in municipalities less equipped with man-made amenities. These results suggest that strengthening social capital, investing into better facilities in the area of education, health and social care, and promoting sport and cultural activities can partially mitigate the migratory response to air pollution.