Pollution Lowers Support for China's Regime: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Beijing

Forthcoming, Journal of Politics

110 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2016 Last revised: 31 Oct 2017

See all articles by Meir Alkon

Meir Alkon

Harvard University

Erik Wang

Princeton University, Department of Politics, Students

Date Written: August 10, 2017

Abstract

Using an eight-week long original survey conducted day-by-day in Beijing in 2015, we leverage daily variation in air quality to estimate the causal effects of pollution on support for the Chinese regime. Our results show that pollution decreases satisfaction with both central and local governments and increases demand for oversight of government. Additionally, we time our survey to partially coincide with a period during which the government intentionally reduced air pollution, allowing us to exploit a unique instance of authoritarian environmental engineering. We show that government efforts to reduce pollution do successfully improve citizens' evaluations of the regime. To our knowledge, this paper provides the first causal estimates of the challenges to popular support posed by environmental issues in a developing country, and also illustrates the specific ways that public opinion under authoritarian governance is affected by pollution.

Keywords: authoritarian regimes; causal inference; China; environmental politics; public opinion

Suggested Citation

Alkon, Meir and Wang, Erik, Pollution Lowers Support for China's Regime: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Beijing (August 10, 2017). Forthcoming, Journal of Politics, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2757858 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2757858

Meir Alkon

Harvard University ( email )

MA 02138
United States

Erik Wang (Contact Author)

Princeton University, Department of Politics, Students ( email )

Princeton, NJ
United States

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