Purdue University Graduate School
2023.7.19 KunduThesis final.pdf (2.11 MB)


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posted on 2023-07-19, 21:02 authored by Debadrita KunduDebadrita Kundu

This dissertation consists of distinct but related essays that delve into the impacts of changing economic conditions and climate mitigation policies on household consumption, health, and welfare outcomes. The first essay examines the effect of variations in economic factors, such as home values, on unhealthy consumption behaviors in the U.S. The second essay examines the distributional effects and possible health advantages of climate mitigation policies in India. The findings in this dissertation have significant implications for preventive health and environmental justice policies, particularly concerning vulnerable populations. 

The first essay of this dissertation investigates the impact of home value fluctuations on household tobacco and alcohol consumption in the U.S., specifically focusing on consumption based on homeownership status. First, we utilize high-frequency household transaction panel data and ZIP code-level home values to estimate the causal effect of home value fluctuations (or the housing wealth effect) on household tobacco and alcohol consumption for all U.S. households. Second, we predict household homeownership status by supplementing our primary household panel transaction data with a secondary household survey dataset; this allowed us to estimate the housing wealth effect separately for homeowners and renters. Home values are a leading economic indicator and effectively represent variation in housing wealth, whereas prior literature mainly focuses on lagging economic indicators, such as the unemployment rate. Housing wealth is a significant component of household net worth in the U.S. We leverage temporal and geographic fluctuations in household transactions and local home values to show that changes in housing wealth have a causal effect on household tobacco and alcohol consumption. Our findings show that declining home values increase tobacco and alcohol consumption among homeowners, with no effect on renters. Beer and cigarettes mainly drive this effect. Declining home values substantially increase annual consumption of nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, and alcohol by volume, exacerbating public health concerns. In contrast, unemployment shocks increase tobacco and alcohol consumption among homeowners and decrease it among renters. The housing wealth effect is most pronounced among bubble states households, heavy-use consumers, low-income, and white households. The study emphasizes the importance of targeted policy interventions to mitigate the negative effects of fluctuations in housing wealth on unhealthy consumption, especially amid the current unpredictable economic environment and volatile real estate market. 

The second essay of this dissertation analyzes the distributional impacts of climate mitigation policies consistent with India’s 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution and 2070 net-zero target, using a dynamic global computable general equilibrium (CGE) model with heterogeneous Indian households. Specifically, we expand the CGE model to incorporate ten rural and ten urban household income deciles. Additionally, we link the CGE model with a global atmospheric source-receptor model to derive health co-benefits from reduced premature mortality due to lower air pollution. Several policy levers are considered in this study, including carbon pricing, enhanced coal consumption tax (or coal cess), and fossil subsidies phaseout. These are further combined with five alternative revenue recycling options. Our results suggest the potential welfare costs of such mitigation policies are rather moderate and do not exceed 0.5% over 2023-2050, not accounting for health and environmental co-benefits and damages avoided by successfully limiting global temperature rise to well below 2°C. However, health co-benefits from lower air pollution can potentially outweigh the mitigation costs. Combining carbon pricing and fossil subsidy removal is more efficient than carbon pricing alone, generating progressive medium-term welfare gains due to reduced market distortions. Raising coal cess rates is the least efficient policy. Inequality and distributional impacts vary significantly based on the chosen revenue recycling approach. Equal transfer of tax revenue across households proves to be the most efficient and equitable, followed by labor tax subsidies, leading to a Gini index and S20/S80 ratio reduction of 0.01%-1.7% and 0.1%-7%, respectively. Recycling revenues to stimulate green energy investments yields the least favorable distributional impacts and worsens inequality. Trade-offs exist between reducing inequality and fostering investment-driven economic growth when choosing revenue recycling options. Policymakers should prioritize policy mixes and revenue-recycling methods based on their objectives to effectively combat climate change while promoting sustainable growth and reducing income inequality in India. 


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Agricultural Economics

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Bhagyashree Katare

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Dominique van der Mensbrugghe

Additional Committee Member 2

Maksym Chepeliev

Additional Committee Member 3

Jacob R Gilbert

Additional Committee Member 4

Joyashree Roy