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Abstract

Using a dual-market sorting model of workers’ location decisions, this paper studies the capitalization of air pollution in wages and property prices across Chinese cities. We exploit quasi-experimental variations in particulate matter (PM10) concentration induced by a policy subsidizing coal-based winter heating in northern China, specifying a regression discontinuity design based on cities’ location relative to the policy boundary. We estimate that the elasticity of wages and house prices with respect to PM10 concentration is 0.41 and -0.71 respectively. Our results are robust to the use of an alternative source of exogenous variation in PM10 concentration(sandstorms), supporting the view that the local effect we measure provides policy-relevant information on the value of air quality improvements in China.

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