Balancing Development and the Environment in a Changing World: Expressways, GDP, and Pollution in China

Published on: 2017-08-21



How does an economy rebalance economic production and environmental preservation when its ability to generate income using environmental resources changes? Theoretically, we predict that an increase in the ability can have heterogeneous impacts on the economy’s environmental quality and income. Empirically, we find that the dramatic expansion of China’s national expressway system, which arguably enhanced the income-generating abilities of Chinese counties, indeed affects their economic and environmental performances differentially: expressway access increases pollution and GDP in initially poor counties, reduces pollution and GDP in initially rich counties, and reduces pollution while increasing GDP in counties with middling income levels.

About the Speaker

Guojun He is an economist working on environmental, health and development issues. He is jointly appointed at Division of Social Science, Division of Environment and Department of Economics. He is also a faculty associate at the HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies and Institute for Public Policy. His current research focuses on understanding the complex relationship between economics development, environment and human health from an interdisciplinary perspective. Before joining HKUST, he was a research fellow at Harvard University, and obtained his Ph.D. degree from U.C. Berkeley.

Co-organized with HKUST Institute for Public Policy (IPP)
as Part of the HKUST IEMS & IPP China Initiative
Find out more at

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