Air Pollution and Manufacturing Firm Productivity: Nationwide Estimates for China
36 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2017 Last revised: 2 Jun 2018
Date Written: May 20, 2018
We provide nationwide estimates of air pollution's effect on short-run labor productivity for manufacturing firms in China from 1998 to 2007. An emerging literature estimates air pollution's effects on labor productivity but only for small groups of workers of particular occupations or firms. To provide more comprehensive estimates necessary for policy analysis, we estimate effects for all but some small firms (90% of China's manufacturing output) and capture all channels by which pollution influences productivity. To address the endogeneity of air pollution, we use thermal inversions as an instrument.
Our causal estimates imply that a one ug/m3 decrease in PM2.5 increases labor productivity by 0.85% with an elasticity of -0.45. Lowering PM2.5 by 1% nationwide through methods other than reducing manufacturing output would generate annual productivity increases of CNY 57.7 thousand for the average firm and CNY 9.2 billion or 0.062% of GDP across all firms. Improving air quality generates substantial productivity benefits and these should be considered in evaluating environmental regulations and their effect on firm competitiveness.
Keywords: air pollution, productivity, environmental costs and benefits, Firm competitiveness
JEL Classification: D62, Q51, Q53, R11
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