Research Portfolio | Economics
Innovative study estimates extent to which air pollution from coal shortens human lives in China.
New quasi-experimental research finds major impact of coal emissions on health.
Innovative economic study estimates extent to which air pollution in China shortens human lives. A high level of air pollution, in the form of particulates produced by burning coal, significantly shortens the lives of people exposed to it, according to a unique new study co-authored by MIT economist Michael Greenstone.
Story at MIT News
A high level of air pollution, in the form of particulates produced by burning coal, significantly shortens the lives of people exposed to it, according to a unique new study of China co-authored by an MIT economist. The research is based on long-term data compiled for the first time, and projects that the 500 million Chinese who live north of the Huai River are set to lose an aggregate 2.5 billion years of life expectancy due to the extensive use of coal to power boilers for heating throughout the region. Using a quasi-experimental method, the researchers found very different life-expectancy figures for an otherwise similar population south of the Huai River, where government policies were less supportive of coal-powered heating.
The paper, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also contains a generalized metric that can apply to any country’s environment: Every additional 100 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter in the atmosphere lowers life expectancy at birth by three years.