Air Pollution and Adult Cognition: Evidence from Brain Training
We exploit novel data from brain-training games to examine the impacts of air pollution on a comprehensive set of cognitive skills of adults. We find that exposure to particulate matter (PM2.5) impairs adult cognitive function, and that these effects are largest for those in prime working age. These results confirm a hypothesized mechanism for the impacts of air pollution on productivity. We also find that the cognitive effects are largest for new tasks and for those with low ability, suggesting that air pollution increases inequality in workforce productivity.
We thank Karen Clay, and seminar/conference participants at the Australian National University, Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, Lumos Labs, Inc., and the University of Adelaide for invaluable comments and suggestions. The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the University of Pittsburgh and the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.