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Smog, Cognition and Real-World Decision Making


  • Chen, Xi


Cognitive functioning is critical as in our daily life a host of real-world complex decisions in high-stakes markets have to be made. The decision-making process can be vulnerable to environmental stressors. Summarizing the growing economic and epidemiologic evidence linking air pollution, cognition performance and real-world decision making, we first illustrate key physiological and psychological pathways between air pollution and cognition. We then document the main patterns of air pollution affecting cognitive test performance by type of cognitive tests, gender, window of exposure, age profile, and educational attainment. We further extend to a review of real-world decision making that has been found to be affected by air pollution and the resulting cognitive impairments. Finally, rich implications on environmental health policies are drawn based on existing evaluations of social costs of air pollution.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen, Xi, 2018. "Smog, Cognition and Real-World Decision Making," GLO Discussion Paper Series 266, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:266

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
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    6. Michael P. Keane & Susan Thorp, 2016. "Complex Decision Making: The Roles of Cognitive Limitations, Cognitive Decline and Ageing," Economics Papers 2016-W10, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
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    9. Keane, M.P. & Thorp, S., 2016. "Complex Decision Making," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 661-709, Elsevier.
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    More about this item


    Air Pollution; Cognitive Performance; Intelligence; Decision Making;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G41 - Financial Economics - - Behavioral Finance - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making in Financial Markets
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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