Becker Friedman Institute
for Research in Economics
The University of Chicago

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Growth, Pollution, and Life Expectancy: China from 1991-2012

February 2015
Avraham Ebenstein, Maoyong Fan, Michael Greenstone, Guojun He, Peng Yin, Maigeng Zhou

This paper examines the relationship between income, pollution, and mortality in China from 1991-2012. Using first-difference models, we document a robust positive association between city-level GDP and life expectancy. We also find a negative association between city level particulate air pollution exposure and life expectancy that is driven by elevated cardiorespiratory mortality rates. The results suggest that while China's unprecedented economic growth over the last two decades is associated with health improvements, pollution has served as a countervailing force.

Publication Type: 
Working Paper
Institution: 
SSRN