COVID-19, Commuting Flows, and Air Quality
37 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2021 Last revised: 12 Jul 2021
Date Written: July 2021
Fossil-fuel burning transportation methods significantly contribute to air pollution. During the COVID-19 pandemic, South Korea experienced a 10-20% decline in commuting flows, even without government-mandated stay-at-home orders. This paper quantifies the impact that decreased commuting flows have on PM2.5, PM10, NO2, and CO, using municipality level commuting data. We find that a 1% decrease in commuting flows decreases air pollutants by 0.08-0.17%, after controlling for seasonality and time-varying local production. The effect was higher in regions with high initial pollution, and people recognized air quality improvements. These results emphasize the importance of encouraging cleaner transportation methods after the pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19, Commuting Flows, Transportation, Air Pollution
JEL Classification: Q53, R11, R41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation