Exploring the effect of subjective air pollution on happiness in China

Abstract

Previous papers that study the relationship between air pollution and happiness have not paid much attention to subjective air pollution. This paper attempts to explore the influence of subjective air pollution on happiness, the heterogeneity of the effects, and people’s subjective willingness for improving air quality. We match the data of Chinese General Social Survey with local air quality and mainly based on the method of regression discontinuity. Our study shows that the public’s subjective air pollution perception has significant negative effects on their happiness. The negative effects on happiness of unhealthy people and middle-aged/old people are greater than that of healthy people and young people. Moreover, residents who are relatively vulnerable to the harm of air pollution appear to be more willing to pay for the improvement of air quality. These results indicate that in order to improve air quality more rationally and effectively, not only should the government concentrate on the improvement of objective air quality but also pay attention to the public’s subjective feelings, as well as taking the subjective needs of local residents into consideration in the process of air pollution control.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the anonymous referees for their helpful suggestions and corrections on the earlier draft of our paper, upon which we have improved the content.

Funding

This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71874189) and the College Students Innovation Fund of China University of Mining and Technology (DCXM201934).

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Correspondence to Ming Zhang.

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Appendix

Appendix

Table 6 The distribution of variables
Table 7 The continuity test of covariates
Table 8 The bandwidth tests
Table 9 Tests of different polynomial function forms of the forcing variable
Fig. 2
figure2

The density function of PM2.5 concentrations of 28 provinces

Fig. 3
figure3

The density function of PM2.5 concentrations of 318 cities

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Song, Y., Zhou, A. & Zhang, M. Exploring the effect of subjective air pollution on happiness in China. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-10255-8

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Keywords

  • Subjective air pollution
  • Happiness
  • Heterogeneity
  • Willingness to pay