Happiness in the Air: How Does Dirty Sky Affect Subjective Well-Being?

48 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2015

See all articles by Xin Zhang

Xin Zhang

Beijing Normal University (BNU) - School of Statistics

Xiaobo Zhang

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Xi Chen

Department of Health Policy and Management; Yale University - Department of Economics; Yale University - Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies; IZA

Date Written: September 25, 2015

Abstract

Existing studies that evaluate the impact of pollution on human beings understate its negative effect on cognition, mental health, and happiness. This paper attempts to fill in the gap via investigating the impact of air quality on subjective well-being using China as an example. By matching a unique longitudinal dataset at the individual level, which includes self-reported happiness and mental well-being measures, with contemporaneous local air quality and weather information according to the exact date and place of interview, we show that worse air quality reduces shorter-term hedonic happiness and increases the rate of depressive symptoms. However, life satisfaction, an evaluative measure of happiness, is largely immune from immediate bad air quality.

Keywords: China; East Asia; Asia; air pollution; welfare; psychology; hedonic happiness; life satisfaction; mental well-being; air quality

JEL Classification: I31; Q51; Q53

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Xin and Zhang, Xiaobo and Chen, Xi, Happiness in the Air: How Does Dirty Sky Affect Subjective Well-Being? (September 25, 2015). IFPRI Discussion Paper 1463. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2685836

Xin Zhang (Contact Author)

Beijing Normal University (BNU) - School of Statistics ( email )

Beijing, 100875
China

Xiaobo Zhang

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

2033 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
United States
202-862-5677 (Phone)
202-467-4439 (Fax)

Xi Chen

Department of Health Policy and Management ( email )

60 College St
New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

Yale University - Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies ( email )

77 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06520
United States

HOME PAGE: http://isps.yale.edu/team/xi-chen

IZA ( email )

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