Hector Gutierrez Rufrancos on The unequal effect of pollution exposure on labour supply across gender

WIDER Seminar Series

Hector Gutierrez Rufrancos on The unequal effect of pollution exposure on labour supply across gender

Hector Gutierrez Rufrancos presents at the WIDER Seminar Series on 12 April 2023.

The unequal effect of pollution exposure on labour supply across gender


This paper studies the effects of air pollution on labour supply by gender in Mexico City. We differentiate between the health, income and policy effect. We use a regression discontinuity design to identify the policy effect of the "Environmental Contingency Program" and labour supply decisions in pre- and post-contingency periods. Further, we supplement this evidence with information on pollution from measurement stations across the city linked to a city-representative labour force survey. We find evidence that contemporaneous pollution exposure at moderate levels reduce labour supply, whilst there are dramatic reductions at high levels of pollution with heterogeneous effects by formality status. Moreover, pollution seems to decrease working hours even in non-emergency times with differential effects by gender. For male workers the income effect dominates, and thus labour supply increases at high levels of pollution. Moreover, at the extensive margins, informal male workers appear to be the least able to drop-out of employment in high-pollution days. The story is though different at the intensive margins. Where most female and formal workers are able to reduce their hours of work, informal female workers may have no alternatives. Female informal workers have the highest increase in minutes of work during the peak pollution days.

About the presenter

Hector Rufrancos is Lecturer in Economics at the University of Stirling School of Management. He obtained his PhD from the University of Sussex in 2017. He is currently serving as the PhD coordinator in the Economics Division and Co-Director for the UG Economics Programme. Hector is currently the Economics Pathway convenor for the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences and the PhD Co-Director of the Scottish Graduate Programme in Economics, with a particular responsibility for research training. Prior to coming to Stirling Hector was Research Fellow in Historical Economics at the University of Sussex where received a MSc in Development Economics and undertook his undergraduate studies.

Hector is an applied microeconomist whose particular interests lie in the crossroads of labour, development, political economics, and inequality. His work often uses historical sources in analysis, and large datasets, and in some occasions, big old data. The type of research question which has guided Hector’s work tries to analyse the interplay between formal and informal institutions on ordinary people’s life. From the working of labour institutions in the presence of weak legal institutions, to their ramifications for workers themselves. Hector’s work has featured in journals such as the British Journal of Industrial Relations, the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A (Statistics in Society), Oxford Economic Papers and the Economic History Review.

WIDER Seminar Series

The WIDER Seminar Series showcases the latest research on key topics in development economics. It provides a forum for senior and early-career researchers, both in-house and external, to present recent and ongoing work related to UNU-WIDER’s current work programme.

In addition to providing a forum for both academic debate and training, the series presents an opportunity for policy makers and others interested in development to learn about the latest research methods and findings.

The WIDER Seminar Series events take place on Wednesdays. All those interested are invited to register and attend via Zoom or in person.