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The Effects of Driving Restrictions on Air Quality: São Paulo, Bogotá, Beijing, and Tianjin


  • Lin, C.-Y. Cynthia
  • Zhang, Wei
  • Umanskaya, Victoria I.


In a typical driving restriction, vehicle use is restricted based on the vehicle’s license plate; one cannot drive vehicles with certain license plate numbers on certain days. Driving restrictions have been used as a method to reduce urban air pollution or traffic congestion because they are easy and inexpensive to implement. We investigate whether driving restrictions introduced in São Paulo, Bogotá, Beijing and Tianjin have improved air quality. Across different versions of the driving restrictions there is no evidence that the overall air quality at different places has been improved. However, several important results show up in this extensive analysis. Temporal shifting of driving is likely to appear when the restrictions are only effective during certain hours of weekdays. Driving restrictions could potentially reduce the extreme concentrations of air pollutants. Driving restrictions can only be expected to alleviate air pollution when implemented with an extended schedule or in an extended region. The effects of the driving restrictions are primarily on the concentrations of CO and PM10.

Suggested Citation

  • Lin, C.-Y. Cynthia & Zhang, Wei & Umanskaya, Victoria I., 2011. "The Effects of Driving Restrictions on Air Quality: São Paulo, Bogotá, Beijing, and Tianjin," 2011 Annual Meeting, July 24-26, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 103381, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea11:103381
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.103381

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    Cited by:

    1. Paul E. Carrillo & Andrea Lopez & Arun Malik, 2016. "Pollution or Crime: The Effect of Driving Restrictions on Criminal Activity," Working Papers 2016-31, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    2. Sun, Cong & Zheng, Siqi & Wang, Rui, 2014. "Restricting driving for better traffic and clearer skies: Did it work in Beijing?," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 34-41.
    3. Fu, Shihe & Gu, Yizhen, 2017. "Highway toll and air pollution: Evidence from Chinese cities," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 32-49.
    4. Yan Liu & Zhijun Yan & Su Liu & Yuting Wu & Qingmei Gan & Chao Dong, 2017. "The effect of the driving restriction policy on public health in Beijing," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 85(2), pages 751-762, January.
    5. repec:eee:pubeco:v:164:y:2018:i:c:p:50-69 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Wang, Lanlan & Xu, Jintao & Qin, Ping, 2014. "Will a driving restriction policy reduce car trips?—The case study of Beijing, China," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 279-290.
    7. repec:eee:juecon:v:102:y:2017:i:c:p:106-122 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Carrillo, Paul E. & Lopez-Luzuriaga, Andrea & Malik, Arun S., 2018. "Pollution or crime: The effect of driving restrictions on criminal activity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 50-69.

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    Environmental Economics and Policy;

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