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Avoidance behavior against air pollution: evidence from online search indices for anti-PM2.5 masks and air filters in Chinese cities

Author

Listed:
  • Tong Liu

    () (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

  • Guojun He

    (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
    Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

  • Alexis Lau

    (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
    Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

Abstract

Abstract This study investigates people’s behavioral responses to air pollution information in China. We find that elevated air pollution levels are positively associated with higher online searches for anti-PM2.5 masks and air filters. A 10 µg/m3 increase in PM2.5 is associated with a 3.6–8.4% increase of mobile queries for anti-PM2.5 masks, and 1.1–4.7% for air filters. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find that a haze alert issued when PM2.5 concentration exceeds 250 µg/m3 would double online queries for anti-PM2.5 masks and air filters. Online searches are also positively correlated with online sales. One day of severe pollution would induce a cost of 0.2 million USD on online expenditure on anti-PM2.5 masks. Some suggestive evidence shows that people in richer and polluted cities tend to search more for anti-PM2.5 masks and air filters than those in poorer and cleaner cities.

Suggested Citation

  • Tong Liu & Guojun He & Alexis Lau, 2018. "Avoidance behavior against air pollution: evidence from online search indices for anti-PM2.5 masks and air filters in Chinese cities," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 20(2), pages 325-363, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:envpol:v:20:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10018-017-0196-3
    DOI: 10.1007/s10018-017-0196-3
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    Cited by:

    1. Magali A. Delmas & Aanchal Kohli, 2020. "Can Apps Make Air Pollution Visible? Learning About Health Impacts Through Engagement with Air Quality Information," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 161(2), pages 279-302, January.
    2. Guojun He & Tony Liu & Maigeng Zhou, 2019. "Straw Burning, PM2.5 and Death: Evidence from China," HKUST IEMS Working Paper Series 2019-66, HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies, revised May 2019.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Avoidance behavior; Air pollution; Haze alert; Online search; PM2.5;

    JEL classification:

    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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