Measuring demand for clean air in Asian mega-cities

In many low and middle income countries (especially in Asia), urban air quality has never been worse, with harmful impacts on human health and wellbeing. Even more alarming, levels of many toxic air pollutants are projected to increase over the coming decades. Poor air quality is associated with significant health (physical and mental) and non-health costs, including from greenhouse gas emissions.

While many Asian countries are beginning to implement pollution control policies, these regulations have so far been tentative. The lack of clear and effective polices is perhaps understandable due to the high cost of air pollution policies, i.e. that they may slow the growth of energy-intensive sectors. But it may also be the case that the benefits are underestimated because the beneficiaries of these policies – urban households – are uninformed of the negative effects of air pollution, are unaware of the benefits of improved air quality, or simply do not value cleaner air. Evidence of urban households’ perceived benefits from cleaner air in developing countries is sorely lacking. Therefore, we are designing and fielding an internet-based survey to measure the willingness to pay for air quality in three major Asian cities (Beijing, China; New Delhi, India; Jakarta, Indonesia). We aim to a) collect data on various (averting) behaviors and preferences for clean air among urban residents of these megacities; and b) calculate and examine how WTP varies between and within cities and sub-populations, defined by socio-demographic, technological, and environmental characteristics.

Main research collaborators:

  • Ping Qin, Xiao-Bing Zhang (Renmin University)
  • Subhrendu Pattanayak (Duke)
  • Jie-Sheng Tan Soo, Eric FInkelstein (National University of Singapore)