High levels of air pollution reduce team innovation


Various studies document that poor air quality can lead to adverse effects on individual worker productivity in routine jobs. Yet, the effect of pollution on team performance in contexts that require individuals to work collaboratively on non-routine problem-solving tasks is not well explored. These settings are particularly conducive to situations that require innovative solutions, including tackling global challenges such as pandemics, poverty, or climate change. Here, we document a sizable adverse effect of air pollution on team performance using data from 7,500 live escape games in London. On high-pollution days, teams take on average 8% more time to solve a sequence of non-routine analytical tasks, which require collaborative skills analogous to those needed in the modern workplace. Negative effects increase exponentially and are heterogeneous depending on the type of air pollutant. As team efforts predominantly drive innovation, high levels of air pollution may significantly hamper economic development

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Paul Lohmann
Paul Lohmann
Research Associate

My research interests include behavioural environmental economics and field experiments.