Environmental regulations on air pollution in China and their impact on infant mortality

J Health Econ. 2015 Jul;42:90-103. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2015.02.004. Epub 2015 Mar 6.


This study explores the impact of environmental regulations in China on infant mortality. In 1998, the Chinese government imposed stringent air pollution regulations, in one of the first large-scale regulatory attempts in a developing country. We find that the infant mortality rate fell by 20 percent in the treatment cities designated as "Two Control Zones." The greatest reduction in mortality occurred during the neonatal period, highlighting an important pathophysiologic mechanism, and was largest among infants born to mothers with low levels of education. The finding is robust to various alternative hypotheses and specifications. Further, a falsification test using deaths from causes unrelated to air pollution supports these findings.

Keywords: Air pollution; China; Environmental regulation; Infant mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Air Pollution / prevention & control*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Government Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality / trends*
  • Urban Population