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XJTU study shows competitive rankings clear the air

May 10, 2024
  L M S

The introduction of urban air quality ranking policies has driven local governments to take more concrete measures to improve air quality, thereby creating competitive pressure among peer governments and leading to the formation of an "air quality ranking championship" based on air quality rankings. While some studies have elucidated on the theoretical concept of the "air quality ranking championship," there is a lack of economic literature studying the impact of air quality ranking competitions among peer governments on environmental governance.

In this regard, Professor Li Jianglong and doctoral student Ma Xiaoming from the School of Economics and Finance at Xi'an Jiaotong University (XJTU) conducted in-depth research on the aforementioned matter.

Based on monthly air quality rankings and pollutant concentration data, the study analyzed how the competitive pressure brought about by the urban air quality ranking policy under environmental assessments affects urban air quality and social welfare.

The research indicates that local governments' competition significantly enhances policy efficiency. Local government officials who have experienced a decline in urban air quality rankings are more inclined to take relatively strict pollution control actions compared to their counterparts whose rankings have improved.

Specifically, cities whose air quality rankings decline in a given month tend to see an improvement in their pollution levels in the following month, with their rankings significantly increasing as well. This phenomenon does not occur in cities that are not part of the air quality ranking system. As a result, the air quality ranking policy significantly reduces regional pollution, thereby decreasing premature deaths caused by cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, resulting in substantial health economic benefits.

The research findings mentioned above have recently been formally accepted by the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization under the title "Government-to-Government Peer Pressure and Air Pollution: Causal Evidence from an Environmental Ranking Policy in China".

Professor Li is the first author of the paper, with the School of Economics and Finance being the sole credited institution. The "Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization" is a widely recognized top academic journal in the field of behavioral and organizational economics, dedicated to publishing cutting-edge theoretical and empirical articles in this field.