Joakim Weill
Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis

Joakim (Jo) Weill is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Agricultural and Resource Economics department at UC Davis. His research leverages microeconomic tools and causal inference in the fields of environmental and public economics to study (i) how environmental changes impact the most vulnerable populations, and (ii) the distributional impacts of public policies that aim to increase environmental resilience. Prior to his doctoral studies, Jo worked as a consultant at the World Bank’s Environment and Natural Resources division. He holds masters in environmental sciences and environmental engineering from AgroParisTech, France.

This project will estimate  how  much  of  the  educational  achievement  gap  between students of different backgrounds can be attributed to their unequal exposure to air pollutants at home and at school. Recent research finds that air pollution is associated with a decrease in cognitive performance and test scores. This is especially concerning in California, which has one of the highest levels of fine particulate matter and ozone pollution in the United States. Furthermore, economically disadvantaged individuals and minorities are exposed to worse air pollution than the average Californian (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2019). While the average role of pollution on performance is becoming clear, little is known about the possible uneven magnitude of this effect across different groups. We will assess whether differential exposure to pollutants is a significant contributor to observed achievement gaps. This project will merge individual-level data on Californian K12 students with novel data on air pollution and schools’ investments in infrastructure to understand the precise magnitude and dynamics of the impacts of air pollution on test scores. In addition, we will investigate whether increases in school funding and schools’ investment in heating, ventilation and air filtration systems, which are known to improve indoor air quality, are able to partly mitigate the negative impacts of outdoor air pollution.