Xiao Li, Yuanbo Qiao, Lei Shi. Has China's war on pollution slowed the growth of its manufacturing and by how much? Evidence from the Clean Air Action. China Economic Review 53 (2019) 271–289.
Abstract: We provide the first causal estimate of the aggregate effect of the 2013–2017 Clean Air Action, one of the largest and most recent environmental programs in China, on the growth of the manufacturing industry. Using a quasi-experimental approach, we find that the Clean Air Action significantly reduced the manufacturing output in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, which was subject to the most stringent air pollution regulation, by 6.7% during its first two years of implementation. The losses add up to 408.7 billion yuan (2013 price level), equal to 6.5% of the regional GDP in 2013. The action slowed the growth of manufacturing in Hebei and Tianjin by 9.6% and 5.9%, respectively. We find no evidence that it caused a significant reduction of manufacturing output in Beijing. The heterogeneous treatment effects can be explained by the difference in industrial structure between Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei. Our analysis empirically suggests that the Clean Air Action helped drive the structural change of the Chinese economy by substantially suppressing “dirty” manufacturing sectors.
Keywords: Air pollution; Environmental regulation; Economic cost; Quasi-experiment; Porter Hypothesis