Dissertations and Theses

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (DPH)


Community Health and Social Sciences


Spring Cooper

Committee Members

Spring Cooper

Deborah Balk

Glen Johnson

Ananya Mukherjea

Subject Categories

Asian Studies | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Environmental Public Health | Environmental Studies | Epidemiology | International Public Health | Maternal and Child Health | Occupational Health and Industrial Hygiene | Physical and Environmental Geography | Place and Environment | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Public Health | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Social Justice | Spatial Science


mining, India, Odisha, extractive industries, coal, forests, drought


Despite ample evidence of the significant role that mining activities play in determining health outcomes, in India there is a dearth of comprehensive health studies that draw linkages between mining and health. The purpose of the following study is to investigate the impact of mining activities on population health in India using three different methods: ecological multivariable regression, exploratory spatial data analysis (ESDA) and content analysis of government documents using a phenomenological approach. The first aim uses the ecological multivariable regression to examine associations between mining activities and children’s malnutrition outcomes at the district level. Census data, the Demographic Health Survey (India) and other Indian government records are used for the secondary data analysis. According to government sources in 2011, about 32% of the total Indian population lived in districts with some extractive industry production. Ninety-seven percent of Indians lived in drought-sensitive districts. Dalit and indigenous populations are over-represented in mining districts. Despite being only 9% of the total population, 46% of tribal communities live in mining districts. Results show that mining, drought and deprivation all have statistically significant associations with underweight outcome as measured among children in all the models presented. There seems to be some interaction effect between deprivation and mining that was considered in the final regression model. In the ESDR study – one of the most mined regions of India -- the state of Odisha – was studied closely to understand ecological stressors, population composition, and their relationship to mining activity. Spatial analysis is also conducted for forests and rivers that lie near mining sites – called Ecologically Stressed Regions (ESR). The Indian Census 2011 is used to understand urban-rural, indigenous and Dalit population composition of the mining regions. The Social and Economic Caste Census 2011 (SECC) is used to draw correlations between health and deprivation measures as defined by the census. In this study, 142 total working mine sites were geo-coded and analyzed. The third aim uses the phenomenological approach to provide narrative content analysis for bureaucracy through government public records. One of the ways in which we locate the specificity of how mining activity impacts populations, is through the daily material experiences of government bureaucracy. The enactment of bureaucracy is not merely administrative or organizational, but also has important performative and affective functions. Mining regulations, health care access and development are all profoundly bureaucratic processes in India. In India, there are “bureaucratic proceduralism” firmly in place for mining permits, environmental clearances, health care access and delivery as well a range of land and forest related issues. Bureaucracy facilitates a specific mode of communication and even language that affects a range of related issues such as land-ownership, land-use, health, and access to services. While there are some emerging new health research on the study of bureaucracy, none exists within the Indian or mining context. A significant number of studies on India-based mining describes its environmental toxicology or agricultural outcomes, from which then human health consequences are inferred (as opposed to measured). Many times, reports from local activists and groups on health impacts are the first exploratory, reliable information on disease patterns and potential risk factors. This dissertation contributes to the population health studies on mining and health from the Global South, and especially India.

Available for download on Friday, August 16, 2024