NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Self-Protection Investment Exacerbates Air Pollution Exposure Inequality in Urban China

Siqi Zheng, Cong Sun, Matthew E. Kahn

NBER Working Paper No. 21301
Issued in June 2015, Revised in April 2016
NBER Program(s):Children, Environment and Energy Economics

Urban China’s high levels of ambient air pollution both lowers quality of life and raises mortality risk. China’s wealthy have the purchasing power to purchase private products such as portable room air filters that allows them to offset some of the pollution exposure risk. Using a unique data set of Internet purchases, we document that households invest more in masks and air filter products when ambient pollution levels exceed key alert thresholds. Richer people are more likely to invest in air filters, which are much more expensive than masks. Our findings have implications for trends in inequality in human capital accumulation and in quality of life inequality in urban China.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21301

Published: Sun, Cong & Kahn, Matthew E. & Zheng, Siqi, 2017. "Self-protection investment exacerbates air pollution exposure inequality in urban China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 468-474. citation courtesy of

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