COVID-19, Commuting Flows, and Air Quality

37 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2021 Last revised: 12 Jul 2021

See all articles by Munseob Lee

Munseob Lee

University of California San Diego

Rachel Finerman

University of California San Diego

Date Written: July 2021

Abstract

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

Lee, Munseob and Finerman, Rachel, COVID-19, Commuting Flows, and Air Quality (July 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3815444 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3815444

Munseob Lee (Contact Author)

University of California San Diego ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/munseob

Rachel Finerman

University of California San Diego ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

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