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3D3-callout-content.pngHealth and Environment

The effects of environmental change on health and livelihoods is challenging governments in new and unprecedented ways with potentially far-reaching implications for prosperity and stability around the world. Understanding the tradeoffs between the social benefits and costs of environmental protection is essential to designing good policy, which serves as a guiding force behind all of IGCC’s work on the environment and health. Led by Research Director Joshua Graff Zivin, projects on air quality, climate change, energy, global health, and human capital illuminate the human and economic costs of environmental degradation—and potentials solutions.

IGCC’s George Rutherford Supports California COVID-19 Response

Dr. George Rutherford, a member of the IGCC Steering Committee, has been crucial to COVID-19 pandemic response. He is the Head of Disease and Global Epidemiology at UCSF, and a part of San Francisco’s COVID-19 task force. This task force is undertaking one of the largest efforts in the country for contact tracing. He has been featured in numerous articles, including those by San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Hill, and most major news outlets. He is rapidly becoming one of the country’s experts on COVID-19.

Latest COVID-19 Analysis

New IGCC Initiative Supports UC San Diego COVID-19 Response
COVID-19 is challenging populations, economies and medical systems around the globe. As the impact of the pandemic grows, innovators across UC San Diego have responded, rapidly developing solutions that will improve pandemic response efforts in Southern California, and potentially across the country and beyond. One of the organizations responding is Catalyst, a new initiative of the UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC). 

Air Pollution Increases Influenza Hospitalizations
Seasonal influenza is a recurring health burden shared widely across the globe. Gregor Singer, Joshua Graff Zivin and co-authors study whether air quality affects the occurrence of severe influenza cases that require inpatient hospitalization. Using longitudinal information on local air quality and hospital admissions across the United States, they find that poor air quality increases the incidence of significant influenza hospital admissions. Effects diminish in years with greater influenza vaccine effectiveness. Apart from increasing vaccination rates, improving air quality may help reduce the spread and severity of influenza.

Why more U.S. labs could be testing for coronavirus — but aren't
Joshua Graff Zivin examines why U.S. labs are being severely underutilized, with several top university laboratories that have received regulatory approval to process tests for SARS-CoV-2 operating at half their potential capacity.

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China Series

Going Green in China: Firms’ Responses to Stricter Environmental Regulations
From 2006 to 2010, emissions of major regulated water pollutants from Chinese manufacturing fell by 23.1 percent—even as China boosted its manufacturing output by 137.5 percent. How did it happen? A new paper by co-authored by Josh Graff Zivin, IGCC Research Director for environment, health and human capital studies, examines the effect of stringent environmental regulations on firms' environmental practices, economic performance, and environmental innovation.

Temperature and high-Stakes Cognitive Performance: Evidence from the National College Entrance Examination in China
The National College Entrance Exam ins one of the most important institutions in China and affects hundreds of millions of families. This paper reviews the first nationwide estimates on the effects of temperature on student cognitive performance. Findings show that an increase in temperature decreases test scores, and the likelihood of getting into a top-tier university—with potentially far-reaching impacts for the careers and lifetime earnings of students.

The Unintended Impacts of Agricultural Fires: Human Capital in China
The practice of burning agriculture waste is ubiquitous around the world, yet the human capital costs of those fires has been unexplored. Using data from the National College Entrance Exam and agricultural fires detected by high-resolution satellites in China, we find that an increase in fires during the exam decreases student scores, and the probability of getting into a top-tier university.

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Air Pollution's Hidden Impacts
Almost every country regulates air pollution—but how much regulation is enough? In this article in Science magazine, Josh Graff Zivin and Matthew Neidell explore how exposure to air pollution can affect labor productivity and human capital, and suggest that pollution’s pervasive impacts should influence regulatory standards.

Temperature and Human Capital in the Short-and Long-Run
Joshua Graff Zivin, Solomon Hsiang and Matthew Neidell provide the first estimates of the potential impact of climate change on cognitive performance and attainment, focusing on the impacts from both short-run weather and long-run climate.

The Effect of Pollution on Worker Productivity: Evidence From Call-Center Workers in China 
Tom Chang, Joshua Graff Zivin, Tal Gross, and Matthew Neidell investigate the effect of pollution on worker productivity in the service sector by focusing on two call centers in China. It is the first study to show that the negative impacts of pollution on productivity extend beyond physically demanding tasks to indoor, white-collar work.

Temperature and High-Stakes Cognitive Performance: Evidence From The National College Entrance Examination in China
Josh Graff Zivin, Yingquan Song, Peng Zhang and Qu Tang provide the first nationwide estimates on temperature effects on high-stakes cognitive performance in a developing country using data from the National College Entrance Examination in China. Findings suggest that temperature plays an important role in high-stakes cognitive performance and has potentially far-reaching impacts for the careers and lifetime earnings of students.

Promoting Energy Innovation: A Policy Proposal
Accelerating energy innovation is both a necessary part of climate change mitigation and a spur to economic growth, but a number of institutional challenges make such innovation particularly difficult. In this proposal for the Hamilton Project, Anna Goldstein, Pierre Azoulay, Joshua Graff Zivin, Vladimir Bulović propose three types of reform to the energy innovation system that build on lessons from pharmaceutical innovation.

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Past Projects

Sustainable Fisheries
IGCC research addressed how to apply rights-based management to prevent overfishing and encourage sustainable cooperation in the management of shared fisheries. Our efforts focused on the design of international agreements to ensure sustainable global fish stocks and healthy ecosystems, while providing fair access to the fisheries, especially for smaller island countries; and the use of economic incentives to manage the bycatch of sharks, turtles, seabirds, and other vulnerable species.

Environmental Policy and Political Realities: Fisheries Management and Job Creation in the Pacific Islands. Joshua Graff Zivin and Maria Damon, Journal of Environment and Development 21 (2012): 198–218

Vessel Buybacks in Fisheries: The Role of Auction and Financing Structures. Joshua Graff Zivin and Jamie Mullins, Marine Policy 53 (2015): 188–97. 

Translating the Terrestrial Mitigation Hierarchy to Marine Megafauna By-Catch. E.J. Milner-Gulland, Serge Garcia, William Arlidge, Joseph Bull, et al. Fish and Fisheries 19 (2018): 547–61.

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Past Publications