Tatyana Deryugina, Nolan Miller, David Molitor, Julian Reif, 13 January 2021

Policies aimed at reducing the harmful effects of air pollution on human health typically focus on improving air quality in polluted areas. This column suggests a shift in focus from targeting the most polluted places to serving the most vulnerable people. Basing air quality regulations on pollution levels may be less valuable than reducing air pollution in regions with vulnerable populations. Programmes that reduce poverty or improve access to health care may also lessen the recipients’ susceptibility to acute pollution exposure.

Panle Jia Barwick, Shanjun Li, Liguo Lin, Eric Zou, 12 February 2020

During 2013–2014, China launched a nationwide, real-time air quality monitoring and disclosure programme which substantially expanded public access to pollution information. This column analyses the impact of the programme and finds that it triggered a cascade of changes in household behaviour, prompting people to find out more online about pollution-related topics, adjust their day-to-day consumption to avoid exposure to pollution, and exhibit a higher willingness to pay for housing in less-polluted areas. The programme’s estimated annual health benefits far outweigh the combined costs of the programme and associated pollution-avoidance behaviours.

Panle Jia Barwick, Shanjun Li, Deyu Rao, Nahim Bin Zahur, 04 September 2018

Air pollution is a serious concern for China. National levels of fine particular matter are well above recommended standards, and the average concentration across China’s thirteen largest cities is 30% higher than the national average. This column examines the relationship between health spending in China and air pollution, showing that health spending increases significantly during the two months following exposure to air pollution. A reduction of fine particular matter by about 20% from the current level could result in annual savings of 60 billion yuan in healthcare expenditure.

CEPR Policy Research