Luis Sarmiento

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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.

Luis Sarmiento and Nicole Waegner

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Recent literature has causally linked environmental pollution to poor health outcomes that result in adverse labor market impacts. We assess the impact of pollution externalities from hydraulic fracturing on surrounding households’ labor market outcomes by analyzing health-related employee absenteeism: If fracking leads to significant negative environmental externalities, then individuals living in close proximity to fracking sites will have poorer health outcomes and a higher number of sick leave days than comparable individuals. We combine 2000 to 2014 individual- and household-level data from the PSID with oil and gas well data from Pennsylvania. We infer causality through the use of a differences-in-differences design that exploits intertemporal and geographical variation in construction dates and locations of fracking wells. Furthermore, propensity-score matching ensures comparability between treatment and control groups. Preliminary results provide the first evidence of a significant adverse labor market effect of fracking, indicating that exposure to a well increases absenteeism by three days.

  • Submission Status: Working paper still not submitted to any journal.


  • EAERE 2019; Manchester, U.K..
  • Mannheim Energy Conference 2019; Mannheim, Ger.