Prof. Gong Yazhen of School of Environment & Natural Resources published on JEEM
(2022-12-07 17:12:44)

Recently, Prof. Gong Yazhen of School of Environment & Natural Resources published an article titled “The Mortality Impact of Fine Particulate Matter in China: Evidence from Trade Shocks” on Journal of Environmental Economics and Management (JEEM).

This paper uses a panel data set of the 161 county/ city-districts covered by the Disease Surveillance Point System (DSPS) of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the years of 2004, 2008, and 2010. Combing the mortality data, PM2.5 concentrations derived from satellite AOD observations, trade data, socio-economic and weather data, the paper estimates the long-term mortality impact of air pollution. The causal inference of this paper relies on changes in local pollution via wind transport and demand shocks of Chinese products from export destinations amid the global economic crisis during the late 2000s.

The paper finds long-term exposure to PM2.5 (measured as a rolling three-year average)  increases all-cause and cardiorespiratory mortality in an economically and statistically significant manner. The largest impacts are for those 65 years and older, which foretells of a rising future disease burden given a growing older population in China.

The quasi-experimental estimates in the paper show empirical evidence of a concave dose-response function, with diminishing marginal mortality impacts of pollution at levels beyond those in developed nations. This suggests caution when using the benefit transfer approach to infer the impacts of environmental regulation in developing countries based on evidence from developed countries,and provides a framework for considering how early pollution reductions can lay the groundwork for greater gains in the future.

The paper contributes to understanding health benefits from pollution reduction, a key component in the cost-benefit analysis of air pollution regulations in China. It also suggests China could see increasing marginal benefits of pollution reduction as air quality improves.

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