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Urban air pollution and sick leaves: evidence from social security data

Author

Listed:
  • Felix Holub

    (University of Mannheim)

  • Laura Hospido

    (Banco de España)

  • Ulrich J. Wagner

    (University of Mannheim)

Abstract

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 estimate that the causal effect of PM10 on sick leaves is positive and varies with respect to worker and job characteristics. The effect is stronger for workers with pre-existing medical conditions, and weaker for workers with low job security. Our estimates are instrumental for quantifying air pollution damages due to changes in labor supply. We estimate that improved ambient air quality in urban Spain between 2005 and 2014 saved at least €503 million in foregone production by reducing worker absence by more than 5.55 million days.

Suggested Citation

  • Felix Holub & Laura Hospido & Ulrich J. Wagner, 2020. "Urban air pollution and sick leaves: evidence from social security data," Working Papers 2041, Banco de España.
  • Handle: RePEc:bde:wpaper:2041
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Mark Borgschulte & David Molitor & Eric Zou, 2022. "Air Pollution and the Labor Market: Evidence from Wildfire Smoke," NBER Working Papers 29952, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Singh, Prachi & Dey, Sagnik, 2021. "Crop burning and forest fires: Long-term effect on adolescent height in India," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    4. Beshir, H.A.; & Fichera, E.;, 2022. "“And Breathe Normally†: The Low Emission Zone impacts on health and well-being in England," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 22/09, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    5. Jiaxin Li & Shaoguo Zhan & Teng Huang & Debo Nie, 2022. "The Green Innovation Effect of Environmental Regulation: A Quasi–Natural Experiment from China," Energies, MDPI, vol. 15(20), pages 1-15, October.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    air pollution; health; sickness insurance; labor supply;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

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