From Fog to Smog: the Value of Pollution Information
Panle Jia Barwick
American Economic Review (Forthcoming)
In 2013, China launched a landmark program to monitor air quality and disclose realtime
data, significantly increasing the public’s access to and awareness of pollution
information. The program triggered cascading behavioral changes such as stronger
avoidance of outdoor pollution exposure and increased spending on protective products.
These behavioral responses mitigated the mortality impact of air pollution. Conservative
estimates indicate that the program’s health benefits outweigh the costs by an
order of magnitude. The findings highlight the benefits of improving public access to
pollution information in developing countries which often experience severe air pollution
but lack pollution data collection and dissemination.