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The Promise of Beijing: Evaluating the Impact of the 2008 Olympic Games on Air Quality

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  • Yuyu Chen
  • Ginger Zhe Jin
  • Naresh Kumar
  • Guang Shi

Abstract

To prepare for the 2008 Olympic Games, China adopted a number of radical measures to improve air quality. Using officially reported air pollution index (API) from 2000 to 2009, we show that these measures improved the API of Beijing during and after the Games, but 60% of the effect faded away by the end of October 2009. Since the credibility of API data has been questioned, an objective and indirect measure of air quality at a high spatial resolution - aerosol optimal depth (AOD), derived using the data from the NASA satellites - was analyzed and compared with the API trend. The analysis confirms that the improvement was real but temporary and most improvement was attributable to plant closure and traffic control. Our results suggest that it is possible to achieve real environmental improvement in an authoritarian regime but the magnitude of the effect and how long it lasts depend on the political motivation behind the policy interventions.

Suggested Citation

  • Yuyu Chen & Ginger Zhe Jin & Naresh Kumar & Guang Shi, 2011. "The Promise of Beijing: Evaluating the Impact of the 2008 Olympic Games on Air Quality," NBER Working Papers 16907, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16907
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    Cited by:

    1. Xueying Lu, 2016. "Effectiveness of government enforcement in driving restrictions: a case in Beijing, China," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 18(1), pages 63-92, January.
    2. He, Guojun & Fan, Maoyong & Zhou, Maigeng, 2016. "The effect of air pollution on mortality in China: Evidence from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 18-39.
    3. Viard, V. Brian & Fu, Shihe, 2015. "The effect of Beijing's driving restrictions on pollution and economic activity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 98-115.
    4. Williams, Niall & Zhang, Wei, 2016. "The Effects of Air Pollution on Education and Human Capital: Evidence from Prefecture-Level Cities in China," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 236034, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    5. Avraham Ebenstein & Maoyong Fan & Michael Greenstone & Guojun He & Peng Yin & Maigeng Zhou, 2015. "Growth, Pollution, and Life Expectancy: China from 1991-2012," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 226-231, May.
    6. Dave Donaldson & Adam Storeygard, 2016. "The View from Above: Applications of Satellite Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(4), pages 171-198, Fall.
    7. repec:eee:ecoser:v:23:y:2017:i:c:p:38-46 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:kap:mktlet:v:28:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11002-016-9405-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Teng Ma & Kenji Takeuchi, 2016. "Controlling SO2 emissions in China: A panel data analysis of the 11th Five-Year Plan," Discussion Papers 1609, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University.
    10. Chia-Wen Chen & Wei-Min Hu & Christopher R. Knittel, 2017. "Subsidizing Fuel Efficient Cars: Evidence from China's Automobile Industry," NBER Working Papers 23045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Fu, Shihe & Viard, Brian & Zhang, Peng, 2017. "Air Quality and Manufacturing Firm Productivity: Comprehensive Evidence from China," MPRA Paper 78914, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. 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.
    13. Xueying Lu, 2016. "Effectiveness of government enforcement in driving restrictions: a case in Beijing, China," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 18(1), pages 63-92, January.
    14. 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.
    15. Zhang, Wei & Lin Lawell, C.-Y. Cynthia & Umanskaya, Victoria I., 2017. "The effects of license plate-based driving restrictions on air quality: Theory and empirical evidence," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 181-220.
    16. Chen Yuyu & Jin Ginger Zhe & Kumar Naresh & Shi Guang, 2012. "Gaming in Air Pollution Data? Lessons from China," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 13(3), pages 1-43, December.
    17. Claudia N. Berg & Uwe Deichmann & Yishen Liu & Harris Selod, 2017. "Transport Policies and Development," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(4), pages 465-480, April.
    18. Shuddhasattwa Rafiq & Ingrid Nielsen & Russell Smyth, 2016. "Effect of Internal Migration on Air and Water Pollution in China," Monash Economics Working Papers 27-16, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    19. 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.
    20. repec:eee:eneeco:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:31-44 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Siqi Zheng & Jing Cao & Matthew Kahn & Cong Sun, 2014. "Real Estate Valuation and Cross-Boundary Air Pollution Externalities: Evidence from Chinese Cities," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 398-414, April.
    22. Jun Zhang & Chunping Zhong & Ming Yi, 2016. "Did Olympic Games improve air quality in Beijing? Based on the synthetic control method," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 18(1), pages 21-39, January.
    23. Zheng, Siqi & Kahn, Matthew E. & Sun, Weizeng & Luo, Danglun, 2014. "Incentives for China's urban mayors to mitigate pollution externalities: The role of the central government and public environmentalism," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 61-71.
    24. Teng Ma & Kenji Takeuchi, 2017. "Cleaning up the air for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games: Empirical study on China’s thermal power sector," Discussion Papers 1718, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University.
    25. Jun Zhang & Chunping Zhong & Ming Yi, 2016. "Did Olympic Games improve air quality in Beijing? Based on the synthetic control method," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 18(1), pages 21-39, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D0 - Microeconomics - - General
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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