The Effect of Air Pollution on Mortality in China: Evidence from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

HKUST IEMS Working Papers No. 2015-03


Guojun He, Maoyong Fan, Maigeng Zhou

By exploiting exogenous variation in air quality during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, we estimate the effect of air pollution on mortality in China. We find that a 10-μg/m^3 (roughly 10%) decrease in PM_10 concentrations reduces monthly standardized all-cause mortality by 6.63%. The mortality reduction during the Olympics is mainly driven by fewer cardiocerebrovascular and respiratory deaths. Extrapolating our results to all urban areas in China, we estimate that the economic benefits from averted pre-mature deaths would range from 380 billion to 6 trillion Yuan annually if PM_10 concentrations were reduced to the WHO guideline level of 20 μg/m^3.

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