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Journal of Economic Literature: Vol. 51 No. 3 (September 2013)

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Understanding China's Urban Pollution Dynamics

Article Citation

Zheng, Siqi, and Matthew E. Kahn. 2013. "Understanding China's Urban Pollution Dynamics." Journal of Economic Literature, 51(3): 731-72.

DOI: 10.1257/jel.51.3.731

Abstract

China's ongoing urban economic growth has sharply increased the population's per capita income, lowered the count of people living below the poverty line, and caused major environmental problems. We survey the growing literature investigating the causes and consequences of China's urban pollution challenges. We begin by studying how urban population and industrial growth impacts local pollution levels and greenhouse gas production. As the urban population grows richer, its demand for private transportation and electricity sharply increases. Such privately beneficial activity exacerbates urban pollution externalities. Facing these severe environmental challenges, China's urbanites increasingly demand quality of life progress. We survey the emerging literature investigating the demand for environmental progress in China. Progress in mitigating externalities hinges on whether the powerful central and local governments choose to address these issues. We analyze the political economy of whether government officials have strong incentives to tackle lingering urban externalities. We conclude by discussing future research opportunities at the intersection of environmental and urban economics

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Authors

Zheng, Siqi (Hang Lung Center for Real Estate, Tsinghua U)
Kahn, Matthew E. (UCLA and IZA, Bonn)

JEL Classifications

O18: Economic Development: Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
P25: Socialist Systems and Transitional Economies: Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics
P28: Socialist Systems and Transitional Economies: Natural Resources; Energy; Environment
Q53: Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
R23: Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics: Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population; Neighborhood Characteristics
R41: Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise
R58: Regional Development Planning and Policy


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