Evidence on the Impact of Sustained Exposure to Air Pollution on Life Expectancy from China's Huai River Policy

53 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2013

See all articles by Yuyu Chen

Yuyu Chen

Peking University - Guanghua School of Management

Avraham Ebenstein

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics

Michael Greenstone

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; Becker Friedman Institute for Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Li Hongbin

Tsinghua University

Date Written: June 30, 2013

Abstract

This paper's findings suggest that an arbitrary Chinese policy that greatly increases total suspended particulates (TSP) air pollution is causing the 500 million residents of Northern China to lose more than 2.5 billion life years of life expectancy. The quasi-experimental empirical approach is based on China's Huai River policy, which provided free winter heating via the provision of coal for boilers in cities North of the Huai River but denied heat to the South. Using a regression discontinuity design based on distance from the Huai River, we find that ambient concentrations of TSP are about 184 μg/m3 (95% CI: 61, 307) or 55% higher in the North. Further, the results indicate that life expectancies are about 5.5 (95% CI: 0.8, 10.2) years lower in the North due to an increased incidence of cardiorespiratory mortality. More generally, the analysis suggests that long-term exposure to an additional 100 μg/m3 of TSP is associated with a reduction in life expectancy at birth of about 3.0 years (95% CI: 0.4, 5.6).

Keywords: Life expectancy, air pollution, particulate matter, Chinese policy, Huai

JEL Classification: I15, I18, Q53, Q58

Suggested Citation

Chen, Yuyu and Ebenstein, Avraham and Greenstone, Michael and Hongbin, Li, Evidence on the Impact of Sustained Exposure to Air Pollution on Life Expectancy from China's Huai River Policy (June 30, 2013). MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 13-15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2291154 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2291154

Yuyu Chen

Peking University - Guanghua School of Management ( email )

Peking University
Beijing, Beijing 100871
China

Avraham Ebenstein

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Israel

Michael Greenstone (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Becker Friedman Institute for Economics ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Li Hongbin

Tsinghua University ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

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