By Te-Ping Chen
Chinese residents living under smog-belched skies are willing to pay for better air — a very precise amount, according to a U.S. study.
A recently published National Bureau of Economic Research working paper shows that, on average, Chinese people are willing to pay $5.46 to remove one microgram per cubic meter of pollution out of the air they breathe for five years.
The paper examined Chinese census data and air purification purchases between 2006 and 2012 in 81 cities across China, including monthly average prices paid and effectiveness of different products.
“Some Chinese officials think we don’t have to do improvements in air quality, we should just target economic growth,” says Koichiro Ito, assistant professor at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, who co-authored the report. “But our paper shows that people actually do value air quality very significantly.”
China’s environmental minister said earlier this year that it faces resistance from local officials, particularly amid a slowing economy, but vowed to continue pressing for more green reforms.
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