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Does the COVID-19 Pandemic Improve Global Air Quality? New Cross-national Evidence on Its Unintended Consequences

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  • Dang, Hai-Anh H.
  • Trinh, Trong-Anh

Abstract

Despite a growing literature on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, scant evidence currently exists on its impacts on air quality. We offer the first study that provides cross-national evidence on the causal impacts of COVID-19 on air pollution. We assemble a rich database consisting of daily, sub-national level data of air quality for 178 countries before and after the COVID-19 lockdowns, and investigate their impacts on air quality using a Regression Discontinuity Design approach. We find the lockdowns to result in significant decreases in global air pollution. These results are consistent across measures of air quality and data sources and robust to various model specifications. Some limited evidence emerges that countries with a higher share of trade and manufacturing in the economy or with an initially lower level of air pollution witness more reduced air pollution after the lockdowns; but the opposite result holds for countries near the equator. We also find that mobility restrictions following the lockdowns are a possible explanation for improved air quality.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:606
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    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Economics of Welfare > Health Economics > Economics of Pandemics > Specific pandemics > Covid-19 > Environment

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Ahn, Kunwon & Lee, Jun Yeong & Winters, John V., 2020. "Employment Opportunities and High School Completion during the COVID-19 Recession," ISU General Staff Papers 202010190700001114, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    COVID-19; air pollution; mobility restriction; RDD;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D00 - Microeconomics - - General - - - General
    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General

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