If you think air pollution is only affecting health and environment, think again.
The relation of economy and air pollution could be seen as a circular relation. Starting with the rise of global population which raises the demand for commodity (both material and service). On the positive side, the rising demand automatically increase economic activity. However, as industries compete to fulfill the need of their consumers, the demand of energy gets higher.
Take a look at the rise of Uber and other similar online transportation services. It’s a life-changing innovation, a convenient transportation at the reach of your thumb. But, these personalized transport means more private vehicles on the road, which leads to more emissions.
Another example is simply described on your food plate. The rising population demands more food supply. However, some countries are forced to import their food supplies, even if their land could naturally grow the foods. This is due to their industrial progress is slower than the population, which happens especially in developing countries. So, when countries are unable to produce enough food supply, they import. The shipping process of importing (and exporting) contribute to air pollution as the transport produce a lot of emissions.
Economy may not be affected directly by air pollution; that would be health and environment. But, deterioration in human health would affect the labour market and healthcare costs. This would eventually lead to economic problems. Simply, the lack of healthy productive labour and increasing healthcare costs (as most companies would facilitate their employees with health insurance) will damage the overall economy.
Besides labour, production will also be negatively affected by air pollution, especially for commodities from natural resources. For instance, crops rely so much on the whole environment. Air quality will determine the soil and water quality. If it’s bad, so is the rest. Polluted crops will eventually get inside our system as we consume them and so the cycle goes.
More fatally, air pollution is related to a number of premature deaths. Progressively, it will shape an aging population which leads to less productive labour. Thus, less productive economy.