RTutor: Water Pollution and Cancer

December 4, 2017

(This article was first published on Economics and R - R posts, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

One very important benefit of stronger environmental protection is to reduce the damaging effects of pollution on human health.

In his very interesting article “The Consequences of Industrialization: Evidence from Water Pollution and Digestive Cancers in China” (Review of Economics and Statistics, 2012) Avraham Ebenstein studies the impact of water pollution on the rate of digestive cancers for several Chinese river systems. He convincingly argues that there is a causal effect of substantial size and a cost-benefit analysis shows how stricter environmental regulations would allow to statistically save a human life at relatively low cost.

As part of her Master Thesis at Ulm University, Brigitte Peter has generated a very nice RTutor problem set that allows you to replicate the main insights of the article in an interactive fashion. You learn about R, econometrics and the identification of causal effects from field data, as well as the relationship between water pollution and digestive cancer.

Like in previous RTutor problem sets, you can enter free R code in a web based shiny app. The code will be automatically checked and you can get hints how to proceed. In addition you are challenged by many multiple choice quizzes.

To install the problem set the problem set locally, first install RTutor as explained here:


and then install the problem set package:


There is also an online version hosted by shinyapps.io that allows you explore the problem set without any local installation. (The online version is capped at 25 hours total usage time per month. So it may be greyed out when you click at it.)


If you want to learn more about RTutor, to try out other problem sets, or to create a problem set yourself, take a look at the RTutor Github page


You can also install RTutor as a docker container:

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