IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Citizen complaints as environmental indicators : evidence from China


  • Dasgupta, Susmita
  • Wheeler, David


The complaints process in China provides useful information and helps encourage community participation in environmental policy. But it also directs a big share of inspection resources to areas where people tend to complain. After analyzing provincial data for 1987-93, the authors find the subsequent allocation of resources biased, in terms of social welfare. The incidence of complaints reflects potential abatement benefits and the intensity of exposure to highly visible pollutants. However, citizen complaints seem not to be affected by harmful pollutants that are less visible. Basic education seems to have a strong independent effect on propensity to complain. Relying on complaints alone would lead to inappropiately low allocation of inspection resources to less-educated, relatively silent regions. To compensate for incomplete information upon which regulators must rely, the authors say that agencies should invest in public environmental education targeted especially to poorly-educated communities and consider outreach to encourage better communication. The authors also recommend giving priority to technical risk assessments in determining resource allocation.

Suggested Citation

  • Dasgupta, Susmita & Wheeler, David, 1997. "Citizen complaints as environmental indicators : evidence from China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1704, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1704

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Vittas, Dimitri & Iglesias, Augusto, 1992. "The rationale and performance of personal pension plans in Chile," Policy Research Working Paper Series 867, The World Bank.
    2. Barro, Robert J, 1989. "The Ricardian Approach to Budget Deficits," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 37-54, Spring.
    3. Alan Auerbach & Bruce Baker & Laurence Kotlikoff & Jan Walliser, 1997. "Generational Accounting in New Zealand: Is There Generational Balance?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 4(2), pages 201-228, May.
    4. Valdes-Prieto, Salvador, 1994. "Administrative charges in pensions in Chile, Malaysia, Zambia, and the United States," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1372, The World Bank.
    5. Blejer, Mario I & Cheasty, Adrienne, 1991. "The Measurement of Fiscal Deficits: Analytical and Methodological Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1644-1678, December.
    6. Atkinson, A. B., 1995. "Is the Welfare State necessarily an obstacle to economic growth?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 723-730, April.
    7. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "Fiscal policies, capital formation, and capitalism," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 399-420, April.
    8. David M. Cutler & James M. Poterba & Louise M. Sheiner & Lawrence H. Summers, 1990. "An Aging Society: Opportunity or Challenge?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 21(1), pages 1-74.
    9. Hurd, Michael D, 1990. "Research on the Elderly: Economic Status, Retirement, and Consumption and Saving," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(2), pages 565-637, June.
    10. Alicia H. Munnell., 1992. "Current taxation of qualified pension plans: has the time come?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Mar, pages 12-25.
    11. Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1994. "Generational Accounting: A Meaningful Way to Evaluate Fiscal Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 73-94, Winter.
    12. Willem H. Buiter & K.M. Kletzer, 1994. "Ponzi Finance, Government Solvency and the Redundancy or Usefulness of Public Debt," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1070, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    13. Olivia S. Mitchell & Ping-Lung Hsin, "undated". "Public Pension Governance and Performance," Pension Research Council Working Papers 94-1, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    14. Munnell, Alicia H, 1976. "Private Pensions and Saving: New Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(5), pages 1013-1032, October.
    15. Arrau, Patricio & Schmidt-Hebbel, Klaus, 1995. "Pensions systems and reform : country experiences and research issues," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1470, The World Bank.
    16. Corsetti, Giancarlo & Schmidt-Hebbel, Klaus, 1995. "Pension reform and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1471, The World Bank.
    17. Atkinson, A.B., 1987. "Income maintenance and social insurance," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 13, pages 779-908 Elsevier.
    18. repec:fth:harver:1490 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Wang, Hua & Wheeler, David, 2005. "Financial incentives and endogenous enforcement in China's pollution levy system," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 174-196, January.
    2. Dasgupta, Susmita & Laplante, Benoit & Namingi, Nlandu & Hua Wang, 2000. "Industrial environmental performance in China - the impact of inspections," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2285, The World Bank.
    3. Pargal, Sheoli & Mani, Muthukumara & Huq, Mainul, 1997. "Inspections and emissions in India : puzzling survey evidence about industrial pollution," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1810, The World Bank.
    4. Dasgupta, Susmita & Laplante, Benoit & Mamingi, Nlandu & Wang, Hua, 2001. "Inspections, pollution prices, and environmental performance: evidence from China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 487-498, March.
    5. Raymond, Mark & Weersink, Alfons, 2003. "Agriculture And Citizen Complaints," 2003 Annual meeting, July 27-30, Montreal, Canada 22071, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    6. Wheeler, David, 2001. "Racing to the bottom : foreign investment and air pollution in developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2524, The World Bank.
    7. Susmita Dasgupta & Benoit Laplante & Hua Wang & David Wheeler, 2002. "Confronting the Environmental Kuznets Curve," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 147-168, Winter.
    8. Hua Wang & Yanhong Jin, 2007. "Industrial Ownership and Environmental Performance: Evidence from China," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 36(3), pages 255-273, March.
    9. Hua Wang & Wheeler, David, 2000. "Endogenous enforcement and effectiveness of China's pollution levy system," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2336, The World Bank.
    10. Wang,Hua*Ming Chen, 1999. "How the Chinese system of charges and subsidies affects pollution control efforts by China's top industrial polluters," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2198, The World Bank.
    11. Hua Wang, 2000. "Pollution charges, community pressure, and abatement cost of industrial pollution in China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2337, The World Bank.
    12. Dasgupta, Susmita & Deichmann, Uwe & Meisner, Craig & Wheeler, David, 2005. "Where is the Poverty-Environment Nexus? Evidence from Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 617-638, April.
    13. Clive Harris, 2003. "Private Participation in Infrastructure in Developing Countries : Trends, Impacts, and Policy Lessons," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15124.
    14. Lan, Jing & Munro, Alistair, 2013. "Environmental compliance and human capital: Evidence from Chinese industrial firms," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 534-557.
    15. Huang, Haixiao & Miller, Gay Y., 2004. "Citizen Complaints, Regulatory Violations, and their Implications for Swine Operations in Illinois," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 20196, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    16. Ma, Chunbo, 2010. "Who bears the environmental burden in China--An analysis of the distribution of industrial pollution sources?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(9), pages 1869-1876, July.
    17. Wang, Hua & Jin, Yanhong H., 2002. "Ownership And Industrial Pollution Control: Evidence From China," 2002 Annual meeting, July 28-31, Long Beach, CA 19671, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    18. Hua Wang & Jun Bi & Wheeler, David & Jinnan Wang & Dong Cao & Genfa Lu & Yuan Wang, 2002. "Environmental performance rating and disclosure - China's green-watch program," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2889, The World Bank.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1704. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.