35 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 2016
We investigate the effect of pollution on worker productivity in the service sector by focusing on two call centers in China. Using precise measures of each worker’s daily output linked to daily measures of pollution and meteorology, we find that higher levels of air pollution decrease worker productivity by reducing the number of calls that workers complete each day. These results manifest themselves at commonly found levels of pollution in major cities throughout the developing and developed world, suggesting that these types of effects are likely to apply broadly. When decomposing these effects, we find that the decreases in productivity are explained by increases in time spent on breaks rather than the duration of phone calls. To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that the negative impacts of pollution on productivity extend beyond physically demanding tasks to indoor, white-collar work.
Institutional subscribers to the NBER working paper series, and residents of developing countries may download this paper without additional charge at www.nber.org.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Chang, Tom and Graff Zivin, Joshua and Gross, Tal and Neidell, Matthew, The Effect of Pollution on Worker Productivity: Evidence from Call-Center Workers in China (June 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22328. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2794774
This is a National Bureau of Economic Research Paper. NBER charges a fee of $5.00 for this paper.
File name: nber.
If you wish to purchase the right to make copies of this paper for distribution to others, please select the quantity.