The Dirtier You Breathe, The Less Safe You Are. The Effect of Air Pollution on Work Accidents

49 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2023 Last revised: 24 May 2023

See all articles by Gabriele Curci

Gabriele Curci

University of L’Aquila

Domenico Depalo

Bank of Italy; Bank of Italy

Alessandro Palma

Gran Sasso Science Institute; University of Rome Tor Vergata - Centre for International Studies on Economic Growth (CEIS)

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Date Written: May 24, 2023

Abstract

We estimate the effect of air pollution on work-related accidents and disabilities using administrative data from Italy in a setting characterized by strict air pollution and work safety regulations. Leveraging on winter heating rules to address the endogeneity of air quality, we find that a one unit increase in PM10 causes 0.014 additional accidents and 0.0014 disabilities. These results are robust to different model specifications and when we extend the geographical scale of the analysis using an alternative instrumental variable based on the height of planetary atmospheric boundary layer. We explore the theoretical implications of these findings and empirically confirm that firms have an incentive to deploy defensive investments also when the risk of accidents derives from external factors such as air quality. Our back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that each additional unit in PM10 concentration would increase the total cost of an accident by about 1.7%.

Keywords: air pollution, workplace safety, work accidents, instrumental variable, winter heating

JEL Classification: I18, J28, J81, Q51, Q53

Suggested Citation

Curci, Gabriele and Depalo, Domenico and Depalo, Domenico and Palma, Alessandro, The Dirtier You Breathe, The Less Safe You Are. The Effect of Air Pollution on Work Accidents (May 24, 2023). CEIS Working Paper No. 554, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4370149 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4370149

Gabriele Curci

University of L’Aquila ( email )

L’Aquila
Italy

Domenico Depalo

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
00184 Roma
Italy

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Rome, 00184
Italy

Alessandro Palma (Contact Author)

Gran Sasso Science Institute ( email )

viale Francesco Crispi, 7
L'Aquila, 67100
Italy

University of Rome Tor Vergata - Centre for International Studies on Economic Growth (CEIS) ( email )

Via Columbia, 2
Rome, I-00133
Italy

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