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COVID-19 Prevention and Air Pollution in the Absence of a Lockdown

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  • Hung-Hao Chang
  • Chad Meyerhoefer
  • Feng-An Yang

Abstract

Recent studies demonstrate that air quality improved during the coronavirus pandemic due to the imposition of social lockdowns. We investigate the impact of COVID-19 on air pollution in the two largest cities in Taiwan, which were not subject to economic or mobility restrictions. Using a generalized difference-in-differences approach and real-time data on air quality and transportation, we estimate that levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter increased 5 - 12 percent relative to 2017 - 2019. We demonstrate that this counterintuitive finding is likely due to a shift in preferences for mode of transport away from public transportation and towards personal automobiles. Similar COVID-19 prevention behaviors in regions or countries emerging from lockdowns could likewise result in an increase in air pollution.

Suggested Citation

  • Hung-Hao Chang & Chad Meyerhoefer & Feng-An Yang, 2020. "COVID-19 Prevention and Air Pollution in the Absence of a Lockdown," NBER Working Papers 27604, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27604
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dang, Hai-Anh H. & Trinh, Trong-Anh, 2020. "Does the COVID-19 Pandemic Improve Global Air Quality? New Cross-national Evidence on Its Unintended Consequences," GLO Discussion Paper Series 606, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    2. Douglas Almond & Xinming Du & Shuang Zhang, 2020. "Ambiguous Pollution Response to COVID-19 in China," NBER Working Papers 27086, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588.
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    5. Brodeur, Abel & Cook, Nikolai & Wright, Taylor, 2021. "On the effects of COVID-19 safer-at-home policies on social distancing, car crashes and pollution," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 106(C).
    6. Steve Cicala & Stephen P. Holland & Erin T. Mansur & Nicholas Z. Muller & Andrew J. Yates, 2020. "Expected Health Effects of Reduced Air Pollution from COVID-19 Social Distancing," NBER Working Papers 27135, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Persico, Claudia L & Johnson, Kathryn R., 2020. "Deregulation in a Time of Pandemic: Does Pollution Increase Coronavirus Cases or Deaths?," IZA Discussion Papers 13231, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Souknilanh Keola & Kazunobu Hayakawa, 2021. "Do Lockdown Policies Reduce Economic and Social Activities? Evidence from NO2 Emissions," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 59(2), pages 178-205, June.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • 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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