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Columbia University economist Janet Currie and doctoral student Reed Walker developed explored the impact of traffic -- and of pollution resulting from traffic -- on the weight and prematurity of newborns. Using data from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the authors examine the health outcomes of babies born to families living near toll plazas, comparing the outcomes before and after the introduction of EZ-Pass, the electronic payment system that allows motorists to pay tolls without slowing down their automobiles. The system has been linked to significant reductions in pollution (all that stopping and starting of cars at toll plazas adds up).

In their paper, "Traffic Congestion and Infant Health," published by the National Bureau for Economic Research, Currie and Walker find that reduced traffic congestion resulting from EZ-Pass reduces the incidence of premature birth (defined as less than 38 weeks of pregnancy) by 10.8 percent, and of low birth weight (2.5 kilograms or lower) by 11.8 percent. These results are for mothers living within 2 kilometers of a toll plaza; for those living within three kilometers, the changes are smaller but still clear (7.3 percent and 8.4 percent declines, respectively).

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Is it just me, or would elimination of tolls on road altogether have the same "positive" effect?

Funny how they call it a 'reduction' in pollution when there was, in fact, an artificial increase in pollution caused by installation of the tollbooths in the first place... "See how we're helping you?" Yeah, by hurting us first.
 
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