Indoor Air Quality and Learning: Evidence from A Large Field Study in Primary Schools

44 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2023

See all articles by Juan Palacios

Juan Palacios

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Center for Real Estate; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Piet Eichholtz

Maastricht University

Nils Kok

School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University

Nicolas Duran

University College London - Bartlett Real Estate Institute

Date Written: December 7, 2022

Abstract

Governments devote a large share of public budgets to construct, repair, and modernize school facilities. However, evidence on whether investments in the physical state of schools translate into better student outcomes is scant. In this study, we report the results of a large field study on the implications of poor air quality inside classrooms − a key performance measure of school mechanical ventilation systems. We continuously monitor the air quality (i.e., CO2), together with a rich set of indoor environmental parameters in 216 classrooms in the Netherlands. We link indoor air quality conditions to the outcomes on semi-annual nationally standardized tests of 5,500 children, during a period of five school terms (from 2018 to 2020). Using a fixed-effects strategy, relying on within-pupil changes in air quality conditions and test results, we document that exposure to poor indoor air quality during the school term preceding a test is associated with significantly lower test results: a one standard deviation increase in the school-term average daily peak of CO2 leads to a 0.11 standard deviation decrease in subsequent test scores. The estimates based on plausibly exogenous variation driven by mechanical ventilation system breakdown events confirm the robustness of the results. Our results add to the ongoing debate on the determinants of student human capital accumulation, highlighting the role of school infrastructure in shaping learning outcomes.

Note:
Funding Declaration: Nils Kok and Juan Palacios are financed by a Vidi grant from the Dutch national science organization (NWO).

Conflict of Interests: The author report no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval: Medical Ethical Approval for the current study was waived by the Medical Ethical Committee azM/UM (METC 2018-0681). In addition, data on student performance and health stems from an already existing data infrastructure that are granted with ethical approval by the Ethical Review Committee Inner City faculties (ERCIC_092_12_07_2018).

Keywords: Academic Performance, Human Capital, Indoor Air Quality, School Infrastructure, Education

JEL Classification: 21, Q53

Suggested Citation

Palacios, Juan and Eichholtz, Piet and Kok, Nils and Duran, Nicolas, Indoor Air Quality and Learning: Evidence from A Large Field Study in Primary Schools (December 7, 2022). MIT Center for Real Estate Research Paper No. 22/13, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4296077 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4296077

Juan Palacios (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Center for Real Estate ( email )

United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Piet Eichholtz

Maastricht University ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, Limburg 6200MD
Netherlands

Nils Kok

School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200 MD
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.maastrichtrealestate.com

Nicolas Duran

University College London - Bartlett Real Estate Institute ( email )

1-19 Torrington Place
London, WC1E 7HB
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.nicolas-duran.com

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