Health, Behavior and Environmental Policy
Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM (EST)
- Chair: Rui Du, Oklahoma State University
Behavioral and Distributional Implications of Air Pollution Information on Urbanites’ Outdoor Physical Exercise
AbstractAir pollution is one of the most significant public health hazards worldwide. Governments usually advise citizens to reduce outdoor activities when ambient air pollution is high through publicizing air quality index (AQI) and pollution avoidance guidance. Despite the wide adoption of such information policy worldwide, there is limited causal evidence of how urbanites’ engagement in outdoor activities changes in response to air pollution, as well as the distributional impacts across socio-economic groups. To fill in this gap, the key research questions asked by this research are: (1) How do people adjust outdoor physical exercise in response to information about ambient air quality? (2) How do the effects of pollution information on physical exercise vary by socio-economic status and why?
To answer these questions, we built a unique panel dataset using 22.4 million outdoor exercise records from smartphone App to track exercise activities of people all over China. The primary data are obtained from KEEP (https://www.gotokeep.com/), the most popular exercise App in China, from 2017-01-01 to 2017-12-31. This exercise dataset tracks individuals over time and has rich individual characteristics including location, age, gender, weight and exercise history. We coupled this data with hourly meteorological and pollution data from thousands of monitoring stations all over China.
To properly identify causal effects, we develop an instrumental variable (IV) based on daily variation in wind directions and air pollution levels of upwind cities, which is more exogenous to local activities. Based on IV analysis, we show that a 10 μg/m3 increase in ambient PM2.5 concentration reduces the proportion of people doing outdoor exercise by 1.31%. In addition, we use regression discontinuity design (RDD) to test threshold effects and find that people respond to air quality index discontinuous around the “heavy pollution” threshold, suggesting that public pollution information plays a role in guiding avoidance behaviors.
Respondent Experience and Willingness-to-Pay: Reconciling Stated Preference Data with Scientific Evidence
AbstractStated preference research to elicit respondents' values, or willingness-to-pay (WTP), to avoid or mitigate a detrimental environmental outcome or change often collects information on past experience with the adverse event in the underlying survey. Examples include power outages, goods, water or food contamination, and poor air quality. Traditionally, this information on past experience is then incorporated into a given Random Utility Model (RUM) used for welfare estimation as an explanatory modifier of WTP. The quality or accuracy of these measurements of "past experience" has, to date, been given limited attention. This study presents a unique opportunity to validate stated experiences by Florida Gulf coast residents with red tide-related air toxins with satellite imagery on algal blooms, as well as field data on respiratory irritation at local beaches. This data has been routinely collected for years in that region and is readily available to the public. We illustrate how this ancillary scientific information can be efficiently combined with choice experimental data and used to sharpen welfare estimates for a proposed red tide air quality forecasting system. Looking further, we consider this research a first step in a broader effort to directly link scientific data on environmental conditions with nonmarket economic outcomes.
Who Benefits from Water Quality Control? The Unequal Impacts of Environmental Regulation on Housing Wealth and Consumption
AbstractThis paper examines the unequal effects of water quality regulations on household housing wealth and consumption. Using the data from China’s water quality monitoring system, we check for structural changes in the water quality of rivers between 2007 and 2018. Exploiting the established structural breaks, we find that a 10 mg/L decrease in the chemical oxygen demand (COD) leads to a 0.9% house price appreciation for the properties in proximity to rivers. Using a nationally representative household survey, we further show that the benefits from housing price premiums are concentrated in homeowners in light of a rising consumption level among homeowners living close to rivers with improved water quality. This paper calls for using land value capture mechanisms to recover the benefits from public investments and reduce the existing economic inequality.
- I1 - Health
- D9 - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics