IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp10027.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Effect of Pollution on Worker Productivity: Evidence from Call-Center Workers in China

Author

Listed:
  • Chang, Tom

    (University of Southern California)

  • Graff Zivin, Joshua

    (University of California, San Diego)

  • Gross, Tal

    (Columbia University)

  • Neidell, Matthew

    (Columbia University)

Abstract

We investigate the effect of pollution on worker productivity in the service sector by focusing on two call centers in China. Using precise measures of each worker's daily output linked to daily measures of pollution and meteorology, we find that higher levels of air pollution decrease worker productivity by reducing the number of calls that workers complete each day. These results manifest themselves at commonly found levels of pollution in major cities throughout the developing and developed world, suggesting that these types of effects are likely to apply broadly. When decomposing these effects, we find that the decreases in productivity are explained by increases in time spent on breaks rather than the duration of phone calls. To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that the negative impacts of pollution on productivity extend beyond physically demanding tasks to indoor, white-collar work.

Suggested Citation

  • Chang, Tom & Graff Zivin, Joshua & Gross, Tal & Neidell, Matthew, 2016. "The Effect of Pollution on Worker Productivity: Evidence from Call-Center Workers in China," IZA Discussion Papers 10027, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10027
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://docs.iza.org/dp10027.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Cameron, A. Colin & Gelbach, Jonah B. & Miller, Douglas L., 2011. "Robust Inference With Multiway Clustering," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 29(2), pages 238-249.
    2. Tom Chang & Joshua Graff Zivin & Tal Gross & Matthew Neidell, 2016. "Particulate Pollution and the Productivity of Pear Packers," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 141-169, August.
    3. Lavy, Victor & Ebenstein, Avraham & Roth, Sefi, 2014. "The Impact of Short Term Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution on Cognitive Performance and Human Capital Formation," CEPR Discussion Papers 10302, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Ghanem, Dalia & Zhang, Junjie, 2014. "‘Effortless Perfection:’ Do Chinese cities manipulate air pollution data?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 203-225.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Zhang, Xin & Zhang, Xiaobo & Chen, Xi, 2015. "Happiness in the Air: How Does a Dirty Sky Affect Subjective Well-being?," IZA Discussion Papers 9312, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Jamie T. Mullins, 2018. "Ambient air pollution and human performance: Contemporaneous and acclimatization effects of ozone exposure on athletic performance," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(8), pages 1189-1200, August.
    3. Fu, Shihe & Viard, V. Brian & Zhang, Peng, 2022. "Trans-boundary air pollution spillovers: Physical transport and economic costs by distance," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 155(C).
    4. Cai, Xiqian & Lu, Yi & Wang, Jin, 2018. "The impact of temperature on manufacturing worker productivity: Evidence from personnel data," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 889-905.
    5. Fu, Shihe & Viard, Brian & Zhang, Peng, 2017. "Air Quality and Manufacturing Firm Productivity: Comprehensive Evidence from China," MPRA Paper 78914, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Lin, Jiada & Wan, Haiyuan & Yu, Yangcheng, 2024. "What you breathe makes you poor: The effect of air pollution on income," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    7. Liu, Haoming & Salvo, Alberto, 2017. "Severe Air Pollution and School Absences: Longitudinal Data on Expatriates in North China," IZA Discussion Papers 11134, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Zhang, Xin & Zhang, Xiaobo & Chen, Xi, 2017. "Happiness in the air: How does a dirty sky affect mental health and subjective well-being?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 81-94.
    9. Picchio, Matteo & van Ours, Jan C., 2024. "The impact of high temperatures on performance in work-related activities," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C).
    10. Jiang, Dequan & Li, Weiping & Shen, Yongjian & Zhang, Ying, 2022. "Does air quality affect firms’ investment efficiency? Evidence from China," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 1-17.
    11. Anthony Heyes & Matthew Neidell & Soodeh Saberian, 2016. "The Effect of Air Pollution on Investor Behavior: Evidence from the S&P 500," NBER Working Papers 22753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Yu, Shuangli & Shen, Yuxin & Zhang, Fan & Shen, Yongjian & Xu, Zefeng, 2022. "Air pollution and executive incentive: Evidence from pay-performance sensitivity," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    13. Wu, Junfeng & Liu, Baohua & Chang, Samuel & Chan, Kam C., 2022. "Effects of air pollution on accounting conservatism," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).
    14. Zhang, Xin & Zhang, Xiaobo & Chen, Xi, 2017. "Valuing Air Quality Using Happiness Data: The Case of China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 29-36.
    15. Zhang, Peng & Deschenes, Olivier & Meng, Kyle & Zhang, Junjie, 2018. "Temperature effects on productivity and factor reallocation: Evidence from a half million chinese manufacturing plants," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 1-17.
    16. Luis Sarmiento, 2020. "Waiting for My Sentence: Air Pollution and the Productivity of Court Rulings," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1878, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    17. Mengna Luan & Zhigang Tao & Hongjie Yuan, 2023. "Alive but not well: The neglected cost of air pollution," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(11), pages 2535-2567, November.
    18. Luis Sarmiento, 2022. "Air pollution and the productivity of high‐skill labor: evidence from court hearings," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 124(1), pages 301-332, January.
    19. Jiekun Huang & Nianhang Xu & Honghai Yu, 2020. "Pollution and Performance: Do Investors Make Worse Trades on Hazy Days?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(10), pages 4455-4476, October.
    20. Zhonghua Huang & Xuejun Du, 2022. "Does air pollution affect investor cognition and land valuation? Evidence from the Chinese land market," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 50(2), pages 593-613, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    productivity; pollution;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • 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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10027. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Holger Hinte (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/izaaade.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.