From Fog to Smog: The Value of Pollution Information

78 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2019

See all articles by Panle Jia Barwick

Panle Jia Barwick

Cornell University - Department of Economics

Shanjun Li

Cornell University - School of Applied Economics and Management

Lin Liguo

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics

Eric Zou

University of Oregon

Date Written: August 23, 2019

Abstract

During 2013-2014, China launched a nationwide, real-time air quality monitoring and disclosure program, a watershed moment in the history of its environmental regulations. We present the first empirical analysis of this natural experiment by exploiting its staggered implementation across cities. The program has transformed the landscape of China's environmental protection, substantially expanded public access to pollution information, and dramatically increased households' awareness about pollution issues. These transformations, in turn, triggered a cascade of household behavioral changes, including increases in online searches for pollution-related topics, adjustments in day-to-day consumption patterns to avoid pollution exposure, and higher willingness to pay for housing in less polluted areas. As a result of both short- and long-term behavioral changes, the program significantly reduced the mortality impact of air pollution. Conservative estimates suggest that health benefits are at least one order of magnitude larger than the costs of the program and associated avoidance behaviors combined. Our findings highlight considerable benefits from improving access to pollution information in developing countries, many of which are experiencing the world's worst air pollution but do not systematically collect or disseminate pollution information.

Keywords: Pollution Monitoring, Information Disclosure, Smog, Avoidance

JEL Classification: D80, Q53, Q58

Suggested Citation

Barwick, Panle Jia and Li, Shanjun and Liguo, Lin and Zou, Eric, From Fog to Smog: The Value of Pollution Information (August 23, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3441954 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3441954

Panle Jia Barwick

Cornell University - Department of Economics ( email )

414 Uris Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-7601
United States

Shanjun Li (Contact Author)

Cornell University - School of Applied Economics and Management ( email )

248 Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Lin Liguo

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics ( email )

777 Guoding Road
Shanghai, AK Shanghai 200433
China

Eric Zou

University of Oregon ( email )

1280 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
225
Abstract Views
1,119
PlumX Metrics