Behavioral Changes Triggered by Information about Pollution
In China, an air-quality monitoring and disclosure program focused on fine particulate matter pollution led residents to buy air purifiers and to delay going out when pollution was high.
Although China has long had some of the most polluted cities in the world, few Chinese residents had access to accurate information about pollution levels. Then, in 2013, the country rolled out an air-quality monitoring and disclosure program, providing residents with real-time air pollution information from over 1,400 monitoring stations throughout the country. In From Fog to Smog: The Value of Pollution Information (NBER Working Paper 26541), Panle Jia Barwick, Shanjun Li, Liguo Lin, and Eric Zou find that the program has dramatically increased households' awareness of pollution issues, and that this has triggered a range of behavioral changes to mitigate the health impacts of pollution.
Income Mobility in the Families of Immigrants and US Natives
Prior to the advent of the program, accurate information about pollution levels and consumer awareness of pollution impacts were limited. The researchers first confirmed that the program, which was rolled out in a staggered manner across three groups of cities over two years, successfully increased awareness of pollution levels. The program resulted in a noticeable increase in articles about air pollution in the government's official newspaper, People's Daily, as well as a surge in the number of mobile phone apps providing users with air pollution data. The word "smog" also became more prevalent on social media platforms. Web searches for information about pollution skyrocketed, and purchases of air purifiers doubled within a year of program implementation in areas where the program was rolled out.
— Dwyer Gunn
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