2009 Ph.D., Economics, University of California, Berkeley
2004 B.A., Economics, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, México D.F
Paulina Oliva is an Associate Professor of Economics and Spatial Sciences in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California.
She specializes in the fields of environmental economics and development. In particular, she is interested in the relationship between air pollution and health and on environmental policy effectiveness in the developing world. Her work uses a variety of microeconometric techniques to study individual incentives and human impacts of air pollution.
Oliva's research shows that high levels of air pollution can be especially lethal to vulnerable populations in low- and middle-income countries such as Mexico, China, India and Brazil. Her current research is taking a closer look at socioeconomic characteristics – education, access to healthcare, initial health status – to determine why these populations are more susceptible to the effects of air pollution. She aims to address the effectiveness of public policy at improving environmental outcomes and how low-income populations can benefit from these policies.
She also studies costs of air pollution measured in infant mortality and work hours lost. In addition to finding that effects of air pollution on infant mortality are much higher in developing countries when compared with the U.S., she has found poor air quality to be the culprit for substantial losses in worker productivity. This effect is most concentrated among families who have dependents – small children and the elderly – who are more susceptible to the effects of air pollution as sick days are being taken to care for these individuals.