The Environmental Impact of Special Economic Zones
Speaker(s)Leslie Martin (University of Melbourne, Australia)
Date and time
April 22, 2021
13:00 - 14:00
Please note that this seminar starts at 13:00.
From the late 1970s onwards, the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) experiment spurred extraordinary regional economic growth in China and lifted millions out of poverty. To what extent were the welfare gains from this extraordinary growth offset by environmental and health costs? We exploit the progressive rollout of SEZs across China to estimate the impact of the agglomeration of manufacturing in industrial zones on air quality and child mortality. Using remote sensing data from 1980 to 2013, county-level child mortality data from 1996 to 2012, and taking into account regional wind patterns, we find that SEZs led to higher levels of particulate matter and sulphur dioxide in down-wind counties and subsequently raised under-5 child mortality rates in those counties, resulting in 34,200 additional under-5 child deaths between 1996 to 2012. The spillovers from SEZs to nearby counties increase in the geographic density of nearby SEZs and frequency spent downwind from a SEZ. Joint with Katie Zhang (predoc at University of Chicago Booth, former Honours student at University of Melbourne).