From Low Emission Zone to Academic Track: Environmental Policy Effects on Educational Achievement in Elementary School
Low Emission Zones (LEZs) reduce local air pollution by restricting emission-intensive vehicles from accessing designated areas and have been shown to improve population health. Little is known about the effects of driving restriction policies on other areas of life. This paper studies the effects of LEZs on the educational achievements of elementary school students in Germany, measured by secondary-school transition rates. Using school-level data from North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW), Germany’s largest federal state, we exploit the staggered adoption of LEZs since 2008 in a difference-indifferences framework. Our results imply that LEZs increased rates of transition to the academic track by 0.9-1.6 percentage points in NRW. Our findings on the district level for all of Germany confirm the external validity of these findings. Using geo-referenced data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, we provide suggestive evidence that a reduction in the prevalence of respiratory infections is a vital channel through which LEZs affect schooling outcomes.