Higher levels of air pollution reduce worker
productivity, even when air quality is generally low
Environmental regulations are typically
considered to be a drag on the economy. However, improved environmental
quality may actually enhance productivity by creating a healthier workforce.
Evidence suggests that improvements in air quality lead to improvements in
worker productivity at the micro level across a range of sectors, including
agriculture, manufacturing, and the service sectors, as well as at more
aggregate macro levels. These effects also arise at levels of air quality
that are below pollution thresholds in countries with the highest levels of
environmental regulation. The findings suggest a new approach for
understanding the consequences of environmental regulations.
Insufficient sleep affects employment and
Spending time sleeping not only improves
individuals’ well-being, but it can influence employment outcomes and
productivity. Sleep can be disrupted by company schedules and deadlines,
extended working times, and several individual and household decisions.
Labor market regulation and corporate strategies should factor in the
immediate effect of insufficient sleep on employee fatigue and cognitive
performance, and the associated effects on employment disruption and
productivity loss. Sleep can be influenced by “sleep friendly” employment
regulations, technology nudges, monetary incentives, and subsidies for
Working when sick is a widespread phenomenon
with serious consequences for workers, firms, and society
Many workers admit that at times they show up
for work even though they feel sick. This behavior, termed “presenteeism,”
is puzzling since most workers do not incur financial losses when staying
home sick. The various reasons behind presenteeism are person-related (e.g.
individuals’ health or job attitude) or work-related (e.g. job demands and
constraints on absence from work). Working when sick can have positive and
negative consequences for workers’ performance and health, but it also
affects co-workers’ well-being and firms’ productivity. There are various
strategies as to how firms can address presenteeism.
Natural disasters cause significant short-term
disruptions, but longer-term economic impacts are more complex
Extreme weather events are increasing in
frequency and intensity, threatening lives and livelihoods around the world.
Understanding the short- and long-term effects of such events is necessary
for crafting optimal policy. The short-term economic impacts of natural
disasters can be severe, suggesting that policies that better insure against
consumption losses during this time would be beneficial. Longer-term
economic impacts are more complex and depend on the characteristics of the
affected population and the affected area, changes in migration patterns,
and public policy.
Social skills developed during extracurricular
activities in adolescence can be highly valuable in managerial
Youth participation in extracurricular
activities is associated with a variety of benefits, ranging from higher
concurrent academic performance to better labor market outcomes. In
particular, these activities provide avenues through which youth can develop
the interpersonal and leadership skills that are crucial to succeed as a
manager. A lack of opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities
for many youths, particularly those from lower-income backgrounds, may have
negative consequences for developing the next generation of managers and
Economic recessions seem to reduce overall
mortality rates, but increase suicides and mental health problems
Recessions are complex events that affect
personal health and behavior via various potentially opposing mechanisms.
While recessions are known to have negative effects on mental health and
lead to an increase in suicides, it has been proven that they reduce
mortality rates. A general health policy agenda in relation to recessions
remains ambiguous due to the lack of consistency between different
individual- and country-level approaches. However, aggregate regional
patterns provide valuable information, and local social planners could use
them to design region-specific policy responses to mitigate the negative
health effects caused by recessions.
Medical care and public health interventions in
early childhood may improve human capital accumulation as well as child
Ample empirical evidence links adverse
conditions during early childhood (the period from conception to age five)
to worse health outcomes and lower academic achievement in adulthood. Can
early-life medical care and public health interventions ameliorate these
effects? Recent research suggests that both types of interventions may
benefit not only child health but also long-term educational outcomes. In
some cases, the effects of interventions may spillover to other family
members. These findings can be used to design policies that improve
long-term outcomes and reduce economic inequality.
Excessive drinking is the main cause of high
male mortality rates, but the problem can be addressed
Eastern European countries, particularly former
Soviet Union economies, traditionally have the highest rates of alcohol
consumption in the world. Consequently, they also have some of the highest
male mortality rates in the world. Regulation can be effective in
significantly decreasing excessive drinking and its related negative
effects, such as low labor productivity and high rates of mortality.
Understanding the consequences of specific regulatory measures and what
tools should be used to combat excessive alcohol consumption is essential
for designing effective policies.
Chronic diseases worsen labor market outcomes,
but firms’ hiring and retention policies can reduce them
Chronic health conditions are a global concern
and can impact labor market outcomes of those diagnosed and their
caregivers. Since the global prevalence of many chronic health conditions is
on the rise, it is important to know what firms can do to retain and hire
workers who are impacted. Firms can improve hiring by addressing biases
against potential employees with chronic health conditions. Furthermore,
firms can retain impacted workers by offering workplace flexibility such as
partial sick leave, work hour flexibility, and part-time work options.
Job insecurity adversely affects health, but
employability policies and otherwise better job quality can mitigate the
The fear of unemployment has increased around
the world in the wake of Covid-19. Research has shown that job insecurity
affects both mental and physical health, though the effects are lower when
employees are easily re-employable. The detrimental effects of job
insecurity could be partly mitigated if employers improved other aspects of
job quality that support better health. But as job insecurity is felt by
many more people than just the unemployed, the negative health effects
during recessions are multiplied and extend through the majority of the
population. This reinforces the need for effective, stabilising
macroeconomic policies, most especially at this time of pandemic.