Congestion and Pollution Consequences of Driving-to-School Trips: A Case Study in Beijing
Posted: 11 Nov 2019
Date Written: October 30, 2019
Parents compete for high-quality education for their children by enrolling them in good schools. However, in a Chinese mega-city like Beijing, three factors jointly lead to the spatial separation between schools and homes: the centralized public goods provision mechanism, the historical dependency in school location, and the constrained supply of housing in downtown. Without an adequate number of school buses, this spatial separation of schools and homes triggers the numerous long-distance driving-to-school trips by private vehicle during workday morning rush hours in Beijing. We use the start and end dates of “school holiday” as exogenous repeated shocks to the aggregate traffic congestion, and employ the two-stage least squares (2SLS) regression approach to examine the congestion and pollution consequences of such driving-to-school trips in Beijing. We find that, all else being equal, workdays during school holidays have a traffic congestion index 20% lower than that of non-school-holiday workdays. Such a sharp reduction in congestion leads to a significant decrease in PM10 concentration. Policymakers should lower such “extra” congestion and environmental costs via optimizing the spatial balance between school supply and demand.
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