'Effortless Perfection:' Do Chinese Cities Manipulate Air Pollution Data?

82 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2013 Last revised: 12 Jul 2014

See all articles by Dalia Ghanem

Dalia Ghanem

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Junjie Zhang

Duke Kunshan University; Duke University

Date Written: July 10, 2014

Abstract

This paper uses unique data on daily air pollution concentrations over the period 2001-2010 to test for manipulation in self-reported data by Chinese cities. First, we employ a discontinuity test to detect evidence consistent with data manipulation. Then, we propose a panel matching approach to identify the conditions under which irregularities may occur. We find that about 50% of cities reported dubious PM10 pollution levels that led to a discontinuity at the cut-off. Suspicious data reporting tends to occur on days when the anomaly is least detectable. Our findings indicate that the official daily air pollution data are not well behaved, which provides suggestive evidence of manipulation.

Keywords: air pollution, manipulation, discontinuity test, panel matching

JEL Classification: Q53, C23, C14

Suggested Citation

Ghanem, Dalia and Zhang, Junjie, 'Effortless Perfection:' Do Chinese Cities Manipulate Air Pollution Data? (July 10, 2014). Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2252174 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2252174

Dalia Ghanem

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

Junjie Zhang (Contact Author)

Duke Kunshan University ( email )

No. 8 Duke Avenue
Kunshan, 215316
China
+86 512 36657068 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://junjiezhang.org

Duke University ( email )

No. 8 Duke Avenue
Kunshan, 215316
China
+86 512 36657068 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://junjiezhang.org

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