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The Promise of Beijing: Evaluating the Impact of the 2008 Olympic Games on Air Quality

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  • Yuyu Chen
  • Ginger Zhe Jin
  • Naresh Kumar
  • Guang Shi

Abstract

To prepare for the 2008 Olympic Games, China adopted a number of radical measures to improve air quality. Using officially reported air pollution index (API) from 2000 to 2009, we show that these measures improved the API of Beijing during and after the Games, but 60% of the effect faded away by the end of October 2009. Since the credibility of API data has been questioned, an objective and indirect measure of air quality at a high spatial resolution – aerosol optimal depth (AOD), derived using the data from the NASA satellites – was analyzed and compared with the API trend. The analysis confirms that the improvement was real but temporary and most improvement was attributable to plant closure and traffic control. Our results suggest that it is possible to achieve real environmental improvement in an authoritarian regime but the magnitude of the effect and how long it lasts depend on the political motivation behind the policy interventions.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16907.

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Date of creation: Mar 2011
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Publication status: published as Chen, Yuyu & Jin, Ginger Zhe & Kumar, Naresh & Shi, Guang, 2013. "The promise of Beijing: Evaluating the impact of the 2008 Olympic Games on air quality," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 424-443.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16907

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Cited by:
  1. Siqi Zheng & Jing Cao & Matthew Kahn & Cong Sun, 2014. "Real Estate Valuation and Cross-Boundary Air Pollution Externalities: Evidence from Chinese Cities," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 398-414, April.
  2. Viard, Brian & Fu, Shihe, 2011. "The effect of Beijing’s driving restrictions on pollution and economic activity," MPRA Paper 33009, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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