Self-Protection Investment Exacerbates Air Pollution Exposure Inequality in Urban China

22 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2015 Last revised: 15 Sep 2021

See all articles by Siqi Zheng

Siqi Zheng

Samuel Talk Lee Professor of Urban and Real Estate Sustainability, Faculty Director of MIT Center for Real Estate

Cong Sun

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics

Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2015

Abstract

Urban China’s high levels of ambient air pollution both lowers quality of life and raises mortality risk. China’s wealthy have the purchasing power to purchase private products such as portable room air filters that allows them to offset some of the pollution exposure risk. Using a unique data set of Internet purchases, we document that households invest more in masks and air filter products when ambient pollution levels exceed key alert thresholds. Richer people are more likely to invest in air filters, which are much more expensive than masks. Our findings have implications for trends in inequality in human capital accumulation and in quality of life inequality in urban China.

Suggested Citation

Zheng, Siqi and Sun, Cong and Kahn, Matthew E., Self-Protection Investment Exacerbates Air Pollution Exposure Inequality in Urban China (June 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21301, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2621354

Siqi Zheng (Contact Author)

Samuel Talk Lee Professor of Urban and Real Estate Sustainability, Faculty Director of MIT Center for Real Estate ( email )

Building 9-323
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://siqizheng.mit.edu/

Cong Sun

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics ( email )

777 Guoding Road
Shanghai, AK Shanghai 200433
China

Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California ( email )

2250 Alcazar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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