American Economic Review: Vol. 102 No. 7 (December 2012)


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The Impact of Pollution on Worker Productivity

Article Citation

Graff Zivin, Joshua, and Matthew Neidell. 2012. "The Impact of Pollution on Worker Productivity." American Economic Review, 102(7): 3652-73.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.102.7.3652


This paper assesses the impact of pollution on worker productivity by relating exogenous daily variations in ozone with productivity of agricultural workers as recorded under piece rate contracts. We find robust evidence that ozone levels well below federal air quality standards have a significant impact on productivity. These results suggest that, in contrast to common characterizations of environmental protection as a tax on producers, environmental protection can also be viewed as an investment in human capital, and thus a tool for promoting economic growth.

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Graff Zivin, Joshua (U CA, San Diego)
Neidell, Matthew (Columbia U)

JEL Classifications

J22: Time Allocation and Labor Supply
J24: Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
J43: Agricultural Labor Markets
Q12: Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets
Q51: Valuation of Environmental Effects
Q53: Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

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