IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nst/samfok/16615.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

You sneeze, you lose: The impact of pollen exposure on cognitive performance during high-stakes high school exams

Author

Listed:
  • Simon Søbstad Bensnes

    () (Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Abstract

Pollen is known to cause allergic reactions in approximately 20% of the population. These reactions have significant detrimental effects on sleep, concentration, and cognitive performance. Coincidentally, in many countries the local proliferation of pollen is concentrated in the spring when students take high-stakes exams. Despite these observations, the effect of pollen allergies on school performance has so far received nearly no attention from economists. Using administrative data on Norwegian high school students merged with daily pollen counts, this paper examines the effect of exposure to pollen spores on exam outcomes. I take advantage of the fact that students take several exams in a variety of subjects on different dates, but at the same location, to implement a student fixed effects model. In all specifications increased pollen proliferation on the exam date is found to significantly reduce cognitive performance measured by examination grade. On average, a one standard deviation increase in the ambient pollen level at the mean leads to a 2.5% of a standard deviation decrease in test scores for the average student, with potentially larger effects for allergic students. Supporting the reduced form estimates, the effect is somewhat more pronounced in subsamples with higher prevalence rates of hay fever. Additionally, I find that an increase in the ambient pollen level across exams reduces the probability that a given student graduates on time, and enrolls in higher education. An implication of these findings is that random increases in pollen counts can temporarily reduce cognitive abilities for allergic students who will score worse relative to their peers on high stake exams, and consequently be at a disadvantage when competing for jobs or higher education.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Søbstad Bensnes, 2015. "You sneeze, you lose: The impact of pollen exposure on cognitive performance during high-stakes high school exams," Working Paper Series 16615, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
  • Handle: RePEc:nst:samfok:16615
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.svt.ntnu.no/iso/WP/2015/5_Bensnes.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hanna, Rema & Oliva, Paulina, 2015. "The effect of pollution on labor supply: Evidence from a natural experiment in Mexico City," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 68-79.
    2. Marcotte, Dave E., 2015. "Allergy test: Seasonal allergens and performance in school," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 132-140.
    3. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell, 2014. "Temperature and the Allocation of Time: Implications for Climate Change," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 1-26.
    4. Falch, Torberg & Naper, Linn Renée, 2013. "Educational evaluation schemes and gender gaps in student achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 12-25.
    5. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell, 2012. "The Impact of Pollution on Worker Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3652-3673, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Xi & Zhang, Xiaobo & Zhang, Xin, 2017. "Smog in Our Brains: Gender Differences in the Impact of Exposure to Air Pollution on Cognitive Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 10628, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Daniel L. Mendoza & Cheryl S. Pirozzi & Erik T. Crosman & Theodore G. Liou & Yue Zhang & Jessica J. Cleeves & Stephen C. Bannister & William R. L. Anderegg & Robert Paine III, 2020. "Absentee and Economic Impact of Low-Level Fine Particulate Matter and Ozone Exposure in K-12 Students," Papers 2007.09230, arXiv.org.
    3. Simon Søbstad Bensnes, 2016. "Preparation time, exam scores, and tertiary education," Working Paper Series 17216, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
    4. Chen, Xi & Zhang, Xiaobo & Zhang, Xin, 2017. "Smog in our brains: Gender differences in the impact of exposure to air pollution on cognitive performance in China," IFPRI discussion papers 1619, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    High school; test score; graduation; pollen; allergic rhinitis; hay fever;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

    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:nst:samfok:16615. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anne Larsen). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/isontno.html .

    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 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.

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.