To what extent does air pollution affect happiness? The case of the Jinchuan mining area, China
This paper presents a structural equation model of happiness, as influenced by inter alia perceived risk due to (i) intensity of exposure to polluted air, and (ii) hazard of pollutants. In addition, objective risk measured as proximity to the pollution source, is considered. The main finding is that both types of perceived risk negatively and significantly influence people's happiness, although in absolute terms, the total perceived risk effect is less than the (positive) effect of ability, measured by income and education. Other important determinants of happiness are family size, age, proximity to the pollution source, work environment and current health condition. Perceived risk due to intensity of exposure is influenced by environmental knowledge and proximity to the pollution source; perceived risk of hazard by ability, environmental knowledge, family size, family health experience and proximity to the pollution source. Environmental knowledge is found to be a function of age, ability and work environment. On the basis of the findings, we conclude that reducing air pollution is an important policy measure to ameliorate happiness. As environmental knowledge is an important determinant of perceived risk, reduction policies should be accompanied by disclosure of the state of air quality.
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