Why are pollution damages lower in developed countries? Insights from high-Income, high-particulate matter Hong Kong

J Health Econ. 2021 Sep:79:102511. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2021.102511. Epub 2021 Jul 28.


Conventional wisdom suggests that marginal damages from particulate matter pollution are high in less-developed countries because they are highly polluted. Using administrative data on the universe of births and deaths, we explore birthweight and mortality effects of gestational particulate matter exposure in high-pollution yet high-income Hong Kong. The marginal effects of particulates on birthweight are large but we fail to detect an effect on neonatal mortality. We interpret our stark mortality results in a comparative analysis of pollution-mortality relationships across studies. We provide early evidence that marginal mortality damages from pollution are high in less-developed countries because they are less developed, not because they are more polluted.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants*
  • Air Pollution* / adverse effects
  • Developed Countries
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Particulate Matter / adverse effects
  • Particulate Matter / analysis


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter