Covid-19 Prevention and Air Pollution in the Absence of a Lockdown

31 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2020 Last revised: 5 Jun 2022

See all articles by Hung-Hao Chang

Hung-Hao Chang

National Taiwan University

Chad D. Meyerhoefer

Lehigh University

Feng-An Yang

Department of Agricultural Economics

Date Written: July 2020

Abstract

Recent studies demonstrate that air quality improved during the coronavirus pandemic due to the imposition of social lockdowns. We investigate the impact of COVID-19 on air pollution in the two largest cities in Taiwan, which were not subject to economic or mobility restrictions. Using a generalized difference-in-differences approach and real-time data on air quality and transportation, we estimate that levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter increased 5 - 12 percent relative to 2017 - 2019. We demonstrate that this counterintuitive finding is likely due to a shift in preferences for mode of transport away from public transportation and towards personal automobiles. Similar COVID-19 prevention behaviors in regions or countries emerging from lockdowns could likewise result in an increase in air pollution.

Suggested Citation

Chang, Howard and Meyerhoefer, Chad D. and Yang, Feng-An, Covid-19 Prevention and Air Pollution in the Absence of a Lockdown (July 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27604, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3665874

Howard Chang (Contact Author)

National Taiwan University ( email )

No 1 Roosevelt road
Taipei, 10617
Taiwan

Chad D. Meyerhoefer

Lehigh University ( email )

621 Taylor Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
United States

Feng-An Yang

Department of Agricultural Economics ( email )

No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd.
Taipei, 10617
Taiwan
+886-2-33662655 (Phone)

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