Invasive species control, agricultural pesticide use, and infant health outcomes.
This paper investigates the relationship between infant health and agricultural pesticide use for purposes of invasive species control, by exploiting U.S. detections of invasive spotted wing drosophila (SWD) as a natural experiment. Difference-in-differences results show that insecticide and fungicide use increase by 32.1% and 33.7%, respectively, after SWD detection. Using an instrumental variables approach, we show that a 10% increase in insecticide and fungicide use is associated with 0.18 and 0.15 percentage point increased instances of infant prematurity and 0.08 and 0.08 percentage point increased instances of low birth weight, respectively. Findings are robust to alternative specifications and falsification tests. (JEL Q15, Q57).