Deaths caused by air pollution cost Bangladesh economy nearly $2.6 billion in foregone labour output in 2013, which accounts for 0.58% of its GDP, says a new World Bank Report
The amount compares with $1.2 billion in 1990 and the total number of air pollution-related deaths, causing human suffering and reducing economic development, rose to 27,452 from 6,379 in the 23 years to 2013.
While pollution-related deaths strike mainly young children and the elderly, premature deaths also result in lost labour income for working-age men and women.
The study, released on Thursday last, says air pollution robs nations of significant potential to grow, which after being calculated through total ‘welfare losses’ and loss in labour output, reaches a staggering amount especially for developing countries.
While air pollution has emerged as the deadliest form of pollution and the fourth leading risk factor for premature deaths worldwide, the economic burden it brings along is massive, a new study by a joint study of the World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has suggested.
Between 1990 and 2013, the total welfare losses in Bangladesh stood at $27.5 billion, making up 6.5% of its GDP.
The annual labour income lost from pre-mature deaths by air pollution in Southeast Asia accounted for 0.83% of the region’s GDP in the same year.
On a global scale, the report noted an estimated 5.5 million lives lost in 2013 to diseases associated with outdoor and household air pollution, causing human suffering and reducing economic development.
The result was about $225 billion in lost labour income in 2013.
The aggregate cost of premature deaths was more than US$5 trillion worldwide in 2013. In East and South Asia, welfare losses related to air pollution were the equivalent of about 7.5% of GDP.
In 2013, China lost nearly 10% of its GDP, India 7.69%, while Sri Lanka and Cambodia each lost roughly 8%, as a result of pollution-related deaths.
Between 1990 and 2013, the total welfare losses in Bangladesh stood at $27.5 billion, making up 6.5% of its GDP
Among some South Asian countries, Pakistan suffered the loss of 5.9% and Nepal 4.7%.
Rich nations are not immune, however. Pollution was found to have cost the United States $45bn, Germany $18bn, and the United Kingdom $7.6bn. Iceland, with losses of just $3m, was found to be the least impacted by deaths related to dirty air.
“Air pollution is a challenge that threatens basic human welfare, damages natural and physical capital and constrains economic growth,” World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Lara Tuck said in a statement.
“We hope this study will translate the cost of premature deaths into an economic language that resonates with policy makers so that more resources will be devoted to improving air quality,” he said.
The report noted 90% of the population in low- and middle-income countries is exposed to dangerous levels of ambient air pollution.
Between 1990 and 2013, premature deaths from air pollution increased by 94%, leading to damages from ambient premature death.
At the same time, damages from household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels jumped almost four-fold to $1.5 trillion, adjusted to the purchasing power parity in 2011.
The report finds that annual labour income losses cost the equivalent of almost 1%- 0.83%- of Gross Domestic Product in South Asia.
In terms of welfare losses the figures were a staggering 7.5% GDP equivalent.