Waiting for my Sentence: Air Pollution and the Productivity of Court Rulings

Luis Sarmiento

Click here to access the full working paper

Abstract

I assert that air pollution in the form of nitrogen oxides affects the cognitive productivity of lawyers, judges, and prosecutors participating in Mexican court hearings. This is the first article to document an effect of nitrogen oxides on labor productivity, and the first to study the effect of pollution on judicial employees. I analyze the connection between both variables by merging hourly pollution measures with granular hearing data under the assumption that the length of the hearing approximates the productivity of partaking workers. The study uses panel and instrumental variable techniques to identify the causal relationship between both variables. In the preferred specification, one standard deviation increase of nitrogen oxides increases the length of judicial hearings by 3.68 percent.

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