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Primary Submission Category: Causal Inference and SUTVA/Consistencies Violations

Causal Effects of Continuous Exposures in the Presence of Spatial Interference: the Effects of Air Pollution on Public Health

Authors: Heejun Shin, Joseph Antonelli,

Presenting Author: Heejun Shin*

We develop new methodology to improve our understanding of the causal effects of multivariate air pollution exposures on public health. Typically, exposure to air pollution for an individual is measured at their home geographic region, though people travel to different regions with potentially different levels of air pollution. To account for this, we incorporate estimates of the mobility of individuals from cell phone mobility data to get an improved estimate of their exposure to air pollution. We treat this as an interference problem, where individuals in one geographic region can be affected by exposures in other regions due to mobility into those areas. We propose policy-relevant estimands and derive expressions showing the extent of bias one would obtain by ignoring this mobility. We additionally highlight the benefits of the proposed interference framework relative to a measurement error framework for accounting for mobility. We develop novel estimation strategies to estimate causal effects that account for this spatial spillover utilizing flexible, nonparametric Bayesian methodology. Empirically we find that this leads to substantially improved estimation of the causal effects of air pollution exposures over analyses that ignore spatial spillover caused by mobility.