Avoidance behavior against air pollution: evidence from online search indices for anti-PM2.5 masks and air filters in Chinese cities
- 285 Downloads
This study investigates people’s behavioral responses to air pollution information in China. We find that elevated air pollution levels are positively associated with higher online searches for anti-PM2.5 masks and air filters. A 10 µg/m3 increase in PM2.5 is associated with a 3.6–8.4% increase of mobile queries for anti-PM2.5 masks, and 1.1–4.7% for air filters. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find that a haze alert issued when PM2.5 concentration exceeds 250 µg/m3 would double online queries for anti-PM2.5 masks and air filters. Online searches are also positively correlated with online sales. One day of severe pollution would induce a cost of 0.2 million USD on online expenditure on anti-PM2.5 masks. Some suggestive evidence shows that people in richer and polluted cities tend to search more for anti-PM2.5 masks and air filters than those in poorer and cleaner cities.
KeywordsAvoidance behavior Air pollution Haze alert Online search PM2.5
JEL ClassificationQ53 I12 I18
This research was supported by the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (PF13-10374) from the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong. The authors would like to thank Cong Sun for sharing the sales data. The authors also appreciate the very useful comments and suggestions of the four anonymous reviewers.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Bharadwaj P, Gibson M, Zivin JG, Neilson C (2017) Gray matters: fetal pollution exposure and human capital formation. J Assoc Environ Resour Econ 4(2):505–542Google Scholar
- Burnett RT, Pope CA, Ezzati M, Olives et al (2014) An integrated risk function for estimating the global burden of disease attributable to ambient fine particulate matter exposure. Environ Health Perspect 122:397–403Google Scholar
- Chen Y, Jin GZ, Kumar N, Shi G (2012) Gaming in air pollution data? Lessons from China. BE J Econ Anal Policy 12(3):1–43Google Scholar
- Currie J, Neidell M (2005) Air pollution and infant health: what can we learn from California’s recent experience? Q J Econ 120(3):1003–1030Google Scholar
- Ito K, Zhang S (2016) Willingness to pay for clean air: evidence from air purifier markets in China (no. W22367). National Bureau of Economic ResearchGoogle Scholar
- Kholodilin KA, Podstawski M, Siliverstovs B (2010) Do Google searches help in nowcasting private consumption? A real-time evidence for the US. In: KOF Swiss Economic Institute working paper, no. 256Google Scholar
- Mansfield C, Corey C (2003) Task 4: analysis of survey data on ozone alert days. US Environmental Protection Agency, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
- Moretti E, Neidell M (2011) Pollution, health, and avoidance behavior evidence from the ports of Los Angeles. J Hum Resour 46(1):154–175Google Scholar
- Neidell M (2006) Public information and avoidance behavior: do people respond to smog alerts? In: Technical report, Center for Integrating Statistical and Environmental Science, no. 24Google Scholar
- Neidell M (2009) Information, avoidance behavior, and health the effect of ozone on asthma hospitalizations. J Hum Resour 44(2):450–478Google Scholar
- Pope CA III, Burnett RT, Turner MC, Cohen A, Krewski D, Jerrett M, Gapstur SM, Thun MJ (2011) Lung cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality associated with ambient air pollution and cigarette smoke: shape of the exposure–response relationships. Environ Health Perspect 119(11):1616–1621CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Wu L, Brynjolfsson E (2015) The future of prediction: how Google searches foreshadow housing prices and sales. In: Goldfarb A, Greenstein SM, Tucker CE (eds) Economic analysis of the digital economy. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 89–118Google Scholar
- Yuan Q, Nsoesie EO, Lv B, Peng G, Chunara R, Brownstein JS (2013) Monitoring influenza epidemics in China with search query from Baidu. PLoS One 8(5)Google Scholar