Published: June 13, 2019

Leeds Associate Professor of Real Estate Stephen Billings was recently highlighted in Quartz as conducting one of the most influential economics papers in 2018. His paper titled “Life After Lead: Effects of Early Interventions for Children Exposed to Lead,” coauthored by Simon Fraser University’s Kevin Schnepel and published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, confirmed existing research that children’s exposure to lead negatively impacts them for the entirety of their lives, but offered some hope that Center for Disease Control (CDC)-recommended intervention for kids with high exposure to lead help erase some of the deficits experienced by these exposed kids. Ultimately, children who receive early life intervention from lead exposure have benefits in educational outcomes and antisocial behavior (including adult crime) relative to lead-exposed kids that receive no assistance.

Key Takeaways

  • Lead pollution is consistently linked to cognitive and behavioral impairments
  • CDC-recommended interventions can positively affect long-term educational and behavioral outcomes, and
  • can help address some of the deficits cause by lead exposure

This research follows a similar study conducted by Billings and Schnepel  published in the Journal of Public Economics in 2017, in which they investigated the potential benefits of lead-paint remediation on housing prices and avoiding this residence-specific environmental health risk. Their findings indicate substantial returns for public and private investment in cleaning up the lead paint in residential properties.