NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Particulate Pollution and the Productivity of Pear Packers

Tom Chang, Joshua S. Graff Zivin, Tal Gross, Matthew J. Neidell

NBER Working Paper No. 19944
Issued in February 2014
NBER Program(s):   EEE   HC   HE   LS

We study the effect of outdoor air pollution on the productivity of indoor workers at a pear-packing factory. We focus on fine particulate matter (PM2.5), a harmful pollutant that easily penetrates indoor settings. We find that an increase in PM2.5 outdoors leads to a statistically and economically significant decrease in packing speeds inside the factory, with effects arising at levels well below current air quality standards. In contrast, we find little effect of PM2.5 on hours worked or the decision to work, and little effect of pollutants that do not travel indoors, such as ozone. This effect of outdoor pollution on the productivity of indoor workers suggests a thus far overlooked consequence of pollution. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that nationwide reductions in PM2.5 from 1999 to 2008 generated $19.5 billion in labor cost savings, which is roughly one-third of the total welfare benefits associated with this change.

download in pdf format
   (636 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (636 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19944

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Graff Zivin and Neidell w17004 The Impact of Pollution on Worker Productivity
Acemoglu, Laibson, and List w19851 Equalizing Superstars: The Internet and the Democratization of Education
Currie, Davis, Greenstone, and Walker w18700 Do Housing Prices Reflect Environmental Health Risks? Evidence from More than 1600 Toxic Plant Openings and Closings
Novy and Taylor w19941 Trade and Uncertainty
Poterba w19930 Retirement Security in an Aging Society
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us