Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 8, pp 7454–7468 | Cite as

A study of the influence of regional environmental expenditure on air quality in China: the effectiveness of environmental policy

  • Lingyun He
  • Meng Wu
  • Deqing Wang
  • Zhangqi Zhong
Research Article


Based on the panel data model, data on environmental expenditures, the air quality index, economic aggregates, industrial structures, etc., of seven seriously polluted cities in China, from the period 2007–2015, were collected, and this paper estimates the general relationship between environmental expenditures and the air quality index. Besides, the impact of the fuel tax policy on air quality as well as on the relationship between environmental expenditure and the air quality index is tested using the method of regression discontinuity. We find that there is a long-term equilibrium relationship between environmental expenditure and air quality index as well as a 0.0507% positive effect of the former on the latter. Second, for Beijing, Taiyuan, Chongqing, and Lanzhou, a 1% increase in environmental expenditure leads to 0.0773, 0.0125, 0.0965, and 0.0912% decreases in the air quality index, respectively; however, for Shijiazhuang, Ji’nan, and Urumqi, effect of environmental expenditure on air quality is insignificant. Third, both economic growth and optimization of the industrial structure can lead to an improvement of air quality. Fourth, since the implementation of the fuel tax policy in 2009, the air quality of the sample cities has improved, and the pulling effect of environmental expenditure on the air quality index has decreased from 0.0507 to 0.0048%. Our findings cannot only clarify the effect of environmental expenditures on air quality but can also objectively judge the effectiveness of environmental policies of China to a certain extent. It may benefit Chinese government to effectively govern air pollution with fiscal tools in conjunction with economic and environmental characteristics.


Environmental expenditure Air quality Environmental policies Regression discontinuity Economic aggregates Industrial structures 



The authors are grateful for the financial support provided by the Key Program of National Statistical Science Research of China under Grant No. 2016LZ13, the Ministry of Education of Humanities and Social Science project of China under Grant No. 16YJAZH015, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No.71203219.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ManagementChina University of Mining and TechnologyXuzhouChina
  2. 2.School of EconomicsZhejiang University of Finance and EconomicsHangzhouChina

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