Clay

Karen Clay

Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
Areas of Expertise:
  • Climate Change
  • Energy

Connect with Karen

About Karen

Clay's research focuses on the health effects of air pollution and climate change. Much of her work on air pollution intersects with energy. For example, Clay's research examines pollution arising from the use of coal to generate electricity and the use of pipelines and railroads to move crude oil to refineries. Clay has given talks or participated in panels for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Heinz College, the Carnegie Mellon Scott Institute in Pittsburgh and in Washington DC. 

Podcast

Publications

"Lead and Mortality," (with Werner Troesken and Michael Haines), National Bureau of Economic Research , July 1, 2014.

Presents evidence that cities with lead drinking water pipes had higher infant mortality in the early 20th century and that cities with lead pipes and more acidic water, which is associated with greater leaching of lead, had higher infant mortality than cities with lead pipes and less acidic water.

"Convergence in Adaptation to Climate Change: Evidence from High Temperatures and Mortality, 1900-2004" (with Alan Barreca, Olivier Deschenes, Michael Greenstone, and Joseph Shapiro). American Economic Review, Paper and Proceedings 105, no. 5 (2015): 247-251.

Shows the impact of extreme heat on mortality is smaller in states that more frequently experience extreme heat and that the difference in the heat-mortality relationship between hot and cold states declined over 1900-2004 but had not disappeared as of 2004. 

"Adapting to Climate Change: Evidence from Long-Run Changes in the Temperature-Mortality Relationship in the 20th Century United States" (with Alan Barreca, Olivier Deschenes, Michael Greenstone, and Joseph Shapiro). Journal of Political Economy 124, no. 1 (2016).

Documents mortality in the United States for temperatures over 80F fell 70% over the twentieth century and almost all of the decline occurred after 1960. Shows the decline is almost entirely explained by the expansion of air conditioning.

"Adapting to Climate Change: Evidence from Long-Run Changes in the Temperature-Mortality Relationship in the 20th Century United States," (with Alan Barreca, Olivier Deschenes, Michael Greenstone, and Joseph Shapiro), National Bureau of Economic Research , January 1, 2013.

Documents mortality in the United States for temperatures over 80F fell over 70% over the twentieth century and almost all of the decline  occurred after 1960. Shows the decline is almost entirely explained by the expansion of air conditioning.  

"Canary in a Coal Mine: Impact of Mid-20th Century Air Pollution on Infant Mortality and Property Values," (with Joshua Lewis and Edson Severnini), National Bureau of Economic Research , April 1, 2016.

Highlights the extent of mid-twentieth century air pollution in the United States and provides estimates of health impacts of increased coal-fired electricity generation on infant mortality. Shows tradeoffs in health effects of increased coal-fired electricity generation for infants and in property values across locations with high and low levels of access to electricity.

"The Social Cost from Moving Crude Oil by Pipelines and Railroads: Evidence from the Bakken," (with Akshaya Jha, Nick Muller, and Randy Walsh), National Bureau of Economic Research , September 1, 2017.

Shows that air pollution and spill and accident costs associated with moving crude oil are much higher (6.7x) for rail and for pipeline and that air pollution costs are much larger (9x) than spill and accident costs. Finds that the majority of the air pollution costs are from criteria pollutants and not carbon dioxide.

In the News

Guest to discuss tax policy and energy technology interaction on WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR News Station, Karen Clay, September 10, 2015.
Guest to discuss how competitive renewable energy sources are with fossil fuels on WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR News Station, Karen Clay, September 17, 2015.
Guest to discuss how our commercial buildings can affect energy consumption on WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR News Station, Karen Clay, September 24, 2015.
Guest to discuss how energy technologies can change the price of natural gas around the world on WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR News Station, Karen Clay, October 1, 2015.