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Trade, Pollution and Mortality in China

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  • Matilde Bombardini
  • Bingjing Li

Abstract

Has the expansion in exports affected pollution and health outcomes across different prefectures in China in the two decades between 1990 and 2010? We exploit variation in the initial industrial composition to gauge the effect of export expansion due to the decline in tariffs faced by Chinese exporters. We construct two export shocks at the prefecture level: (i) PollutionExportShock represents the pollution content of export expansion and is measured in pounds of pollutants per worker; (ii) ExportShock measures export expansion in dollars per worker. The two measures differ because prefectures specialize in different products: while two prefectures may experience the same shock in dollar terms, the one specializing in the dirty sector has a larger PollutionExportShock. We instrument export shocks using the change in tariffs faced by Chinese producers exporting to the rest of the world. We find that the pollution content of export affected pollution and mortality. A one standard deviation increase in PollutionExportShock increases infant mortality by 2.2 deaths per thousand live births, which is about 13% of the standard deviation of infant mortality change during the period. The dollar value of export expansion tends to reduce mortality, but is not always statistically significant. We show that the channel through which exports affect mortality is pollution concentration: a one standard deviation increase in PollutionExportShock increases SO2 concentration by 5.4 micrograms per cubic meter (the average is around 60). We find a negative, but insignificant effect on pollution of the dollar-value export shocks, a potential “technique” effect whereby higher income drives demand for clean environment. We find that only infant mortality related to cardio-respiratory conditions responds to exports shocks, while deaths due to accidents and other causes are not affected.

Suggested Citation

  • Matilde Bombardini & Bingjing Li, 2016. "Trade, Pollution and Mortality in China," NBER Working Papers 22804, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22804
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    4. Bombardini, Matilde & Li, Bingjing, 2020. "Trade, pollution and mortality in China," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    5. 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.
    6. Jevan Cherniwchan & Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 2017. "Trade and the Environment: New Methods, Measurements, and Results," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 9(1), pages 59-85, September.
    7. Fu, Tong & Jian, Ze, 2021. "Corruption pays off: How environmental regulations promote corporate innovation in a developing country," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 183(C).
    8. Hélène Ollivier & Geoffrey Barrows, 2020. "Foreign Demand, Developing Country Exports, and CO2 Emissions: Firm-Level Evidence from India," PSE-Ecole d'économie de Paris (Postprint) halshs-03029861, HAL.
    9. Hille, Erik & Shahbaz, Muhammad, 2019. "Sources of emission reductions: Market and policy-stringency effects," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 29-43.
    10. Gutiérrez, Emilio & Teshima, Kensuke, 2018. "Abatement expenditures, technology choice, and environmental performance: Evidence from firm responses to import competition in Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 264-274.
    11. Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 2017. "Environmental and resource economics: A Canadian retrospective," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 50(5), pages 1381-1413, December.
    12. Balaguer, Jacint & Cantavella, Manuel, 2018. "The role of education in the Environmental Kuznets Curve. Evidence from Australian data," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 289-296.
    13. Chen, Dengke & Chen, Shiyi, 2017. "Particulate air pollution and real estate valuation: Evidence from 286 Chinese prefecture-level cities over 2004–2013," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 884-897.
    14. Colantone, Italo & Crinò, Rosario & Ogliari, Laura, 2019. "Globalization and mental distress," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 181-207.
    15. 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.
    16. Geoffrey Barrows & Helene Ollivier, 2018. "Foreign Demand and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Empirical Evidence with Implications for Leakage," Working Papers 2018.16, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    17. Shuai Chen & Faqin Lin & Xi Yao & Peng Zhang, 2020. "WTO accession, trade expansion, and air pollution: Evidence from China’s county‐level panel data," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(4), pages 1020-1045, September.
    18. Li, Bingjing, 2018. "Export expansion, skill acquisition and industry specialization: evidence from china," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 346-361.
    19. Lin, Youhong & Liu, Feng, 2020. "Indoor air quality and health: Empirical evidence from fluoride pollution in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    20. M. Scott Taylor, "undated". "Trade and the Environment: New Methods, Measurements, and Results NBER Working Paper No. 22636," Working Papers 2016-46, Department of Economics, University of Calgary, revised 01 Dec 2016.
    21. Fan, Haichao & Lin, Faqin & Lin, Shu, 2020. "The hidden cost of trade liberalization: Input tariff shocks and worker health in China," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    22. Thomas Stoerk, 2017. "Compliance, Efficiency and Instrument Choice: Evidence from air pollution control in China," GRI Working Papers 273, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    23. Ho Sin-Yu & Iyke Bernard Njindan, 2019. "Trade Openness and Carbon Emissions: Evidence from Central and Eastern European Countries," Review of Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 70(1), pages 41-67, April.
    24. Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 2017. "Environmental and resource economics: A Canadian retrospective," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 50(5), pages 1381-1413, December.

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    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

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