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Urban pollution and road infrastructure: A case study of China


  • Luo, Zhi
  • Wan, Guanghua
  • Wang, Chen
  • Zhang, Xun


Urban road infrastructure is crucial in affecting air pollution. Yet, little is known about the roles played by road width vs road length. This paper attempts to fill this gap by estimating the effects of road infrastructure on PM10 using city-level data from China. Our robust modeling results show that the road density index, defined as the ratio of road surface area to city territory size, is negatively correlated with PM10. More importantly, when the road width and length components of the road density variable are separately included in the regression models, the width is found to be significantly and negatively correlated with PM10, whereas the correlation with the length variable is insignificant. This is expected as increases in road width can help mitigate congestion, improve fuel efficiency, and thus reduce emissions. On the contrary, extending roads to new or unconnected areas is likely to bring more vehicles onto the roads and extend average driving time. Our findings appeal for careful consideration of the trade-off between road width (lane numbers) and road length when planning and constructing urban road infrastructure.

Suggested Citation

  • Luo, Zhi & Wan, Guanghua & Wang, Chen & Zhang, Xun, 2018. "Urban pollution and road infrastructure: A case study of China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 171-183.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:49:y:2018:i:c:p:171-183
    DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2017.04.008

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    Cited by:

    1. Sun, Chuanwang & Zhang, Wenyue & Fang, Xingming & Gao, Xiang & Xu, Meilian, 2019. "Urban public transport and air quality: Empirical study of China cities," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 135(C).

    More about this item


    Urban infrastructure; PM10 pollution; Road length; Road width; China;

    JEL classification:

    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise
    • R53 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Public Facility Location Analysis; Public Investment and Capital Stock


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