Urban Air Pollution and Sick Leaves: Evidence from Social Security Data
72 Pages Posted: 5 May 2020 Last revised: 21 Aug 2021
Date Written: August 20, 2021
We estimate the impact of air pollution on labor supply among workers affiliated to Spain’s universal sickness-leave insurance. We find that a 10% reduction in pollution reduces sick leaves by 0.8% of the mean. This effect is larger among workers with pre-existing medical conditions. Our estimates imply that improvements in urban air quality between 2005 and 2014 reduced worker absence by 5.6 million days, saving €0.5 billion in foregone production. We discuss the ramifications of absenteeism and presenteeism when using sick leaves as an outcome for valuing air quality and gauge the impact of such behaviors on our results.
Keywords: air pollution, health, sickness insurance, labor supply
JEL Classification: I12, I13, Q51, Q53
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation