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Urban Development and Air Pollution: Evidence from a Global Panel of Cities

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  • Christian A. L. Hilber
  • Charles Palmer

Abstract

We exploit a unique panel of 75 metro areas ('cities') across the globe and employ a city-fixed effects model to identify the determinants of within-city changes in air pollution concentration between 2005 and 2011. Increasing car and population densities significantly reduce air pollution concentration in city centers where air pollution induced health risks are greatest. These effects are largely confined to cities in non-OECD countries. Two possible mechanisms for the negative effect of car density are explored: (i) increasing car density permits a decentralization of residential and economic activity; and (ii) car usage substitutes for motorbike usage. We find limited evidence in favour of (i) and no evidence in favour of (ii). We also observe a complex relationship between income and pollution concentration as well as a general downward-trend in pollution concentration over time. Overall, our findings are indicative that densely populated polycentric cities may be 'greener' and 'healthier' than comparable monocentric ones.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian A. L. Hilber & Charles Palmer, 2014. "Urban Development and Air Pollution: Evidence from a Global Panel of Cities," SERC Discussion Papers 0169, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:sercdp:0169
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ahlfeldt, Gabriel M. & Pietrostefani, Elisabetta, 2019. "The economic effects of density: A synthesis," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 93-107.
    2. Felipe Carozzi & Sefi Roth, 2019. "Dirty Density: Air Quality and the Density of American Cities," CEP Discussion Papers dp1635, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Urbanization; urban form; decentralization; air pollution; transport; built environment;

    JEL classification:

    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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