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Am J Public Health. 2011 Sep;101(9):1668-74. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300131. Epub 2011 Jul 21.

Effect of worldwide oil price fluctuations on biomass fuel use and child respiratory health: evidence from Guatemala.

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Division of Health Policy and Administration, Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.



We examined the effect of worldwide oil price fluctuations on household fuel use and child respiratory health in Guatemala.


We regressed measures of household fuel use and child respiratory health on the average worldwide oil price and a rich set of covariates. We leveraged variation in oil prices over the 6-month period of the survey to identify associations between fuel prices, fuel choice, and child respiratory outcomes.


A $1 (3.4% point) increase in worldwide fuel prices was associated with a 2.8% point decrease in liquid propane gasoline use (P < .05), a 0.75% point increase in wood use (P < .05), and a 1.5% point increase in the likelihood of the child reporting a respiratory symptom (P < .1). The association between oil prices and the fuel choice indicators was largest for households in the middle of the income distribution.


Fluctuations in worldwide fuel prices affected household fuel use and, consequently, child health. Policies to help households tide over fuel price shocks or reduce pollution from biomass sources would confer positive health benefits. Such policies would be most effective if they targeted both poor and middle-income households.

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