This paper shows that air quality has a significantly negative effect on the likelihood of individual investors to sit down, log in, and trade in their brokerage accounts controlling for investor-, weather-, traffic-, and market-specific factors. In perspective, a one standard deviation increase in fine particulate matter leads to the same reduction in the probability of logging in and trading as a one standard deviation increase in sunshine. We document this effect for low levels of pollution that are commonly found throughout the developed world. As individual investor trading can be interpreted as a cognitively-demanding task comparable to office work, our findings suggest that the negative effects of pollution on white-collar work productivity are much more severe than previously thought. To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate a negative impact of pollution on a measure of white-collar productivity at the individual level in a western country.
Meyer, Steffen and Michaela Pagel. "Fresh Air Eases Work: The Effect of Air Quality on Individual Investor Activity." Columbia Business School, July 2017.
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