Airborne emissions are detrimental to health. Low emission zones (LEZs) that restrict pollution-intensive vehicles from entering are popular measures to curb local emissions such as particulate matter. We evaluate how LEZs impact defensive pharmaceutical expenditures. To this end, we use the complete medical histories of 2.7M individuals insured with Germany’s largest public health insurer AOK. We identify causal effects exploiting the quasi-experimental, staggered introduction of LEZs in 49 cities. We find that LEZs reduce annual pharmaceutical expenditures for heart and respiratory diseases by 15.8M€, representing a significant fraction of policy costs.
Gender Gaps and the Role of Bosses,CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper 237
with Moritz Drechsel-Grau
This paper investigates the contribution of managers to gender gaps and analyzes whether the over-representation of men in management positions puts women at a disadvantage. Relying on personnel data from one of the largest European manufacturing firms, we separate out the factors explaining gender gaps. Adjusted pay gaps are positive, which means that men earn more than observationally equivalent women. A significant share of pay gaps can be explained by the sorting of men and women to different managers. More importantly, gender gaps in bonus payments causally depend on the manager’s gender. Accounting for worker and manager heterogeneity, bonus gaps are larger when the manager is male. This is driven by the fact that performance ratings are more favorable to men if handed out by a male manager. We present suggestive evidence that the relevance of manager gender for pay gaps is driven by discrimination rather than same-gender complementarities in productivity. However, independent of the root cause of these differences in evaluations by manager gender, the findings imply that a lower number of female managers increases gender gaps and thus constitutes a structural disadvantage for women.
Urban Air Pollution and Sick Leaves: Evidence from Social Security Data,Banco de España Working Paper 2041, CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper 241
with Laura Hospido and Ulrich J. Wagner
We estimate the causal impact of air pollution on the incidence of sick leaves in a representative panel of employees affiliated to the Spanish social security system. Using over 100 million worker-by-week observations from the period 2005-2014, we estimate the relationship between the share of days an individual is on sick leave in a given week and exposure to particulate matter (PM10) at the place of residence, controlling for weather, individual effects, and a wide range of time-by-location controls. We exploit quasi-experimental variation in PM10 that is due to Sahara dust advection in order to instrument for local PM10 concentrations. We find that particulate matter increases sick leaves in a statistically and economically significant fashion. The effect of pollution on sick leaves varies with respect to various worker and job characteristics. It is stronger for workers with pre-existing medical conditions, and weaker for workers with low job security.
Killing Prescriptions Softly: Low Emission Zones and Child Health from Birth to School,IZA Discussion Paper 14376
with Hannah Klauber, Nicolas Koch, Nico Pestel, Nolan Ritter and Alexander Rohlf
We examine the persistence of the impact of early-life exposure to air pollution on children’s health from birth to school enrollment using administrative public health insurance records covering one third of all children in Germany. For identification, we exploit air quality improvements caused by the implementation of Low Emission Zones, a policy imposing driving restrictions on high-emission vehicles. Our results indicate that children exposed to cleaner air around birth require less medication for at least five years. The initially latent health response materializes only gradually in lower medication usage, leaving important but subtle health benefits undetected in common measures of infant health.
Social Benefits and Private Costs of Driving Restriction Policies: The Impact on Congestion, Pollution and Consumer Spending
with Jose Enrique Galdon-Sanchez, Ricard Gil, and Guillermo Uriz-Uharte
Low Emission Zones are defined areas within a city where driving restrictions are introduced with the aim to reduce pollution, but they may also unintentionally distort consumer spending decisions. By increasing transportation costs to ban-affected areas, driving restrictions could discourage spending in stores of those areas. This paper empirically evaluates the effects of a driving restriction regulation in Madrid, Spain, known as Madrid Central. First, using a difference-in-differences identification strategy, we find an immediate decrease of 19 percent in pollution and of 16 percent in congestion with pollution dropping further once fines were levied. Second, we rely on credit card transaction data to show consumers affected by the regulation reduced their brick-and-mortar spending in the regulated area by 20 percent. Finally, we find suggestive evidence that e-commerce may smooth the impact of changes in transportation costs due to environmental regulations as affected consumers partially substitute their consumption spending from brick-and-mortar to online shopping.
Pro-environmental voting when climate change is made salient: Evidence from high-resolution flooding data
with Matthias Schündeln
We study the effect of a large flood on pro-environmental voting in Germany. Detailed data on the spatial extent of the flood and the building-level damage caused by the flood provide a finely disaggregated, continuous, and objective measure of treatment intensity. The availability of pre-flood election data allows for a difference-in-difference approach to deal with potential concerns about omitted variables. The magnitude of the flood’s destruction and the temporal proximity ahead of the 2021 general election entailed that media and politicians paid significant attention to the flood, drawing a connection between the flood and climate change. Taken together, the context provides a unique opportunity to study a setting in which the effect of an extreme environmental event on climate action (voting) can be connected through the climate-change channel. We find that vote shares for the (pro-environment) Green party increase with the damage that localities experienced. However, the estimated effect size is moderate, spatially restricted, and fading out beyond 10km.
Research in Progress
The Impact of Air Quality on the Productivity of High-Skilled Workers