Eyal Frank

I am a PhD candidate in the Sustainable Development PhD Program at Columbia University. I am an environmental economist who studies how economic activities reduce levels of natural capital, specifically in the form of biodiversity losses, and the effects this has on outcomes related to health, trade, and labor markets.

I am on the academic job market and will be available for interviews at the AEA/ASSA Meeting in Chicago in January.



Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information:

Email: eyal.frank@columbia.edu

Job Market Paper: The Effects of Bat Population Losses on Infant Mortality through Pesticide Use in the U.S.


Abstract: Reductions in natural capital can result in complicated knock-on effects that can connect seemingly unrelated outcomes. This paper focuses on the specific setting where pesticides, a form of non-point source pollution, are used to compensate for falling levels of naturally provided pest-control. I use a natural experiment and find the first causally interpretable results for the adverse health effects of pesticides. Identification exploits mortality shocks to bats – a major predator of insects – that result from the unexpected emergence of a wildlife disease known as White Nose Syndrome (WNS). WNS first emerged in the U.S. in 2006 and started to gradually spread across counties. I use a Difference-In-Differences strategy and find that farmers increase their use of insecticides by 39.6% relative to their mean use. Because insects carry fungi between plants, the use of fungicides increases as well by 20.1% relative to the mean. Using linked birth and death certificates I focus on infant mortality due to non-violent causes for births that were conceived during the pesticides application season of April through July. The infant mortality rate increases by 1.01 deaths per 1,000 births in the counties exposed to WNS. This is driven mostly by female infant mortality and represents an increase of 14.5% relative to the mean. These results suggest that mixtures of pesticide compounds can affect health even if each compound is used below its regulatory threshold.