The Effect of Pollution on Worker Productivity: Evidence from Call-Center Workers in China (Abstract, Tom Chang, Joshua Graff Zivin, Tal Gross, Matthew Neidell, NBER Working Paper No. 22328, Jun. 2016)
Also discussed here: The effect of pollution on worker productivity: Evidence from call-centre workers in China (Tom Chang, Tal Gross, Joshua Graff Zivin, Matthew Neidell, VOX- CEPR’s Policy Portal, Jul. 15, 016)
Today we review research that looks at how the productivity of call workers in China was affected by higher levels of pollution. Results indicate that a 10% increase in the Air Pollution Index (API) was associated with a 0.3% drop in calls handled each day. Translated to China’s office workers as a whole, a 10% improvement in air pollution equates to $2.2 Billion/year in productivity. Or, to put it in a big city North American context (Los Angeles), were the 90 days that pollution levels exceeded EPA standards eliminated, the productivity for that city alone would be $378 greater. As the authors comment in terms of broader implications, pollution restrictions, aimed at an improved environment, are sometimes seen as a negative, unfair “tax” by businesses. This paper shows that it could help rather than hinder their bottom line.
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