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The Cost of Air Pollution for Workers and Firms

Air pollution is detrimental to individual health, including for the working-age population. How do health effects on workers translate into economic costs? Join the SITE Brown Bag Seminar with Marion Leroutier, a post-doctoral Researcher at the Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets (Misum), and learn more.

Pm2.5 Levels Below the WHO Thresholds and Its Effects on Health

Marion Leroutier and Hélène Ollivier, in their research paper “The Cost of air pollution for workers and firms: Evidence from sickness leave episodes”, use French administrative data on sickness leave episodes matched with employer-employee data and rich pollution and weather data. Authors exploit short-term variations in wind direction as an instrument for exposure to particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution. Their analysis shows that a one standard deviation increase in weekly exposure to PM2.5 increases the share of workers starting a sickness leave that week by 5%. The effect increases to 10% for workers with initially poorer health status.

Authors suggest that over the 2009-2015 period, keeping PM2.5 levels below the WHO thresholds would have avoided about 2.2 million days of sick leave each year. This would have saved €45 million in publicly-funded benefits and €117 million in employer-funded benefits. In preliminary plant-level analyses, authors fail to detect an effect of pollution on the number of workers in the plant and the annual number of hours worked: plants may adapt to pollution-induced absenteeism by decreasing output rather than increasing overtime or hiring more individuals.

Marion Leroutier, Researcher at the Mistra Centre for Sustainable Markets

Marion Leroutier is a post-doctoral Researcher at the Mistra Centre for Sustainable Markets (Misum), at Stockholm School of Economics (SSE). Marion is an applied environmental economist focusing on two major environmental issues, ambient air pollution and climate change. She is particularly interested in how to better integrate the health impacts of climate (in)action in environmental policy-making, with an emphasis on related inequality issues. She is also affiliated with SSE’s Department of Economics.


The link to the seminar will be distributed by invitation only. If you are interested to attend the seminar – please contact site@hhs.se. Follow the instructions below: Type the subject box with “Brown bag seminar *INSERT SEMINAR TITLE*” and indicate your affiliation and field of interest. For registered applicants, a Zoom link will be provided prior to the event via email with further instructions.

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