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The Impact of the Wuhan Covid-19 Lockdown on Air Pollution and Health: A Machine Learning and Augmented Synthetic Control Approach

Author

Listed:
  • Matthew A Cole

    (University of Birmingham)

  • Robert J R Elliott

    () (University of Birmingham)

  • Bowen Liu

    (University of Birmingham)

Abstract

We quantify the impact of the Wuhan Covid-19 lockdown on concentrations of four air pollutants using a two-step approach. First, we use machine learning to remove the confounding effects of weather conditions on pollution concentrations. Second, we use a new Augmented Synthetic Control Method (Ben-Michael et al. 2019) to estimate the impact of the lockdown on weather normalised pollution relative to a control group of cities that were not in lockdown. We find NO2 concentrations fell by as much as 24 ug/m3 during the lockdown (a reduction of 63% from the pre-lockdown level), while PM10 concentrations fell by a similar amount but for a shorter period. The lockdown had no discernible impact on concentrations of SO2 or CO. We calculate that the reduction of NO2 concentrations could have prevented as many as 496 deaths in Wuhan city, 3,368 deaths in Hubei province and 10,822 deaths in China as a whole.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew A Cole & Robert J R Elliott & Bowen Liu, 2020. "The Impact of the Wuhan Covid-19 Lockdown on Air Pollution and Health: A Machine Learning and Augmented Synthetic Control Approach," Discussion Papers 20-09, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
  • Handle: RePEc:bir:birmec:20-09
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Air pollution; Covid-19; machine learning; synthetic control; health.;

    JEL classification:

    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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