Urban Air Pollution and Sick Leaves: Evidence from Social Security Data
51 Pages Posted: 5 May 2020
Date Written: April 9, 2020
We estimate the causal impact of air pollution on the incidence of sick leaves in a representative panel of employees affiliated to the Spanish social security system. Using over 100 million worker-by-week observations from the period 2005-2014, we estimate the relationship between the share of days an individual is on sick leave in a given week and exposure to particulate matter (PM10) at the place of residence, controlling for weather, individual effects, and a wide range of time-by-location controls. We exploit quasi-experimental variation in PM10 that is due to Sahara dust advection in order to instrument for local PM10 concentrations. We find that particulate matter increases sick leaves in a statistically and economically significant fashion. The effect of pollution on sick leaves varies with respect to various worker and job characteristics. It is stronger for workers with pre-existing medical conditions, and weaker for workers with low job security.
Keywords: air pollution, health, sickness insurance, labor supply
JEL Classification: I12, I13, Q51, Q53
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation