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Superstitions, street traffic, and subjective well-being

Congestion plays a central role in urban and transportation economics. Existing estimates of congestion costs rely on stated or revealed preferences studies. We explore a complementary measure of congestion costs based on self-reported happiness. Exploiting quasi-random variation in daily congestion in Beijing that arises because of superstitions about the number four, we estimate a strong effect of daily congestion on self-reported happiness.


Influence and choice shifts in households: An experimental investigation

Abstract: In this paper, we examine the relative influence of individual decisions on joint household decisions, and whether and to what extent joint choices are more or less patient than individual choices in households. We find that both spouses have a significant influence on joint decisions, whereas husbands on average have a stronger influence than wives. Moreover, we find a substantial share of choice shifts from individual to joint household decisions, i.e. joint decisions are either more patient or more impatient than both individual choices.


A Dynamic Enforcement Strategy to Improve Compliance with Environmental Regulations

This paper develops a stochastic dynamic programming model to investigate a type of dynamic enforcement strategy where the penalties for violations of environmental regulations are based on not only the current level of violations but also the firms’ past noncompliance records. The results show that firms’ optimal level of noncompliance would be a decreasing function of their accumulated


Truth behind Chinese Superstition: Non-linear Effects of Vehicle Traffic on Urban Air Quality in Beijing

Employing hourly data records from 2013 and 2014 in Beijing, we investigate the causal effects of vehicle traffic on air pollution. An arguably exogenous variation in vehicle use that results from the staggered and rotating driving restriction program there, combined with a widespread Chinese superstition about the unlucky number four, allows us to better track causal effects of traffic-induced air pollutants in a generalized 2SLS framework.


Temperature and Industrial Output: Micro-level Evidence from China

We pair a county-level panel of annual industrial output with a fine-scale daily weather dataset to  estimate the responses of industrial output to temperature changes in China. We have three primary findings. First, industrial output is nonlinear in temperature changes. With seasonal average temperatures as temperature variables, industrial output increases by 0.7–1.0% for each 1°C increase in average spring temperature, and falls by 1.3–2.3% for each 1°C increase in average summer temperature.


How Does a Driving Restriction Affect Transportation Patterns? The Medium-Run Evidence from Beijing

This paper uses data from 2009 to 2014 to study the short- to medium-run effect of a driving restriction on transportation patterns in Beijing. The driving restriction specifies two numbers for each weekday so that cars with license plates ending in either of the numbers are banned from driving on that date. Because very few Chinese want to have their car licenses ending in 4, many more cars are driving on days when 4 is banned.


Can an Emission Trading Scheme Promote the Withdrawal of Outdated Capacity in Energy-Intensive Sectors? A Case Study of China’s Iron and Steel Industry

Outdated capacity and substantial potential for energy conservation are the two main features of energy-intensive sectors in developing countries. Such countries also seek to implement market-based options to further control domestic carbon emissions as well as to promote the withdrawal of outdated capacity and upgrade production levels. This paper presents a quantitative assessment of an emission trading scheme (ETS) for China’s iron and steel industry. The diverse array of normal and outdated capacities are modeled in a two-country, three-good partial equilibrium model.


Intra-household decision-making on intertemporal choices: An experimental study in rural China

Abstract: In this paper, we conduct a high stake experiment in rural China to investigate the determinants of individual and joint decisions regarding intertemporal choices, and estimate the relative influence of spouses on the joint decisions. We use the Convex Time Budget experimental method to elicit individual and joint decisions on how much money to allocate to an early and a later date. We find that the rates of return have significant effects on the decisions, yet both individual and joint decisions exhibit present-biased time preferences.


Intertemporal choice shifts in households: Do they occur and are they good?

Abstract: We examine whether and to what extent joint choices are more or less patient and time - consistent than individual choices in households. We use data from an artefactual field experiment where both individual and joint time preferences were elicited. We find a substantial shift from individual to joint household decisions. Interestingly, joint decisions do not only generate beneficial shifts, i.e., patient and time - consistent shifts. On the contrary, a majority of the observed shifts are impatient and time - inconsistent shifts.


China Can Supply About 250 Million Metric Tons of Crop Residues for Bioenergy Production Every Year

We use county-level data on crop yields and cropland to estimate the potential biomass supply from crop residues in China. We find that China can potentially produce about 250 million dry metric tons of crop residues per year when biomass prices are greater than $100 per metric ton. We also find that rice straw is expected to account for about 47% of total residue production, while corn stover (residue) can contribute 28% to total biomass production in China and wheat straw can contribute 25%.


The Effects of Subway Expansion on Traffic Conditions: Evidence from Beijing

To alleviate traffic congestion, one of the most pressing urban challenges in developing countries, Beijing’s government has been investing increasingly in subway infrastructure. In this study, using fine-scale daily traffic records from 2009 to 2013, we perform a regression discontinuity design to examine the average treatment effects of subway openings on traffic conditions in Beijing from 2009 to 2013. Three findings emerge from our empirical analysis. First, the opening of a new subway line resulted in a significant decline of daily passenger bus ridership, by 452,400 on average.


Will a Driving Restriction Policy Reduce Car Trips? A Case Study of Beijing, China Suggests That Driving Restrictions Are Not Too Effective

A driving restriction policy is a politically acceptable policy tool to address traffic congestion and air pollution in some countries and cities, but evidence from Beijing suggests that it is not as effective as hoped. This type of policy, called a command-and-control measure, is more acceptable than a market-based pricing instrument, because it states a rule that applies to everyone, rather than imposing a tax or fee that might be felt more heavily by poorer people. 


Assessment of the Potential Biomass Supply from Crop Residues in China

Using a mathematical programming model, we estimated the potential biomass supply from crop residues in China at various exogenously-given biomass prices and identified the areas that are likely to produce crop residues. Our analysis indicated that China can potentially produce about 153.0–244.2 million dry metric tons of crop residues per year when biomass prices are larger than $90 per metric ton. Rice straw is expected to account for about 47% of total residue production across the different biomass prices and residue production scenarios that we considered.


Assessment of the Potential Biomass Supply from Crop Residues in China

Using a mathematical programming model, this study estimates the potential biomass supply from crop residues in China at various exogenously-given biomass prices and identified the areas that are likely to produce crop residues. The analysis indicated that China can potentially produce about 153.0-244.2 million dry metric tons of crop residues per year when biomass prices are larger than $90 per metric ton.


Environmental risks of shale gas development in China

Shale gas development in China can generate great potential economic benefits, but also poses serious environmental risks. In this paper, we offer a macro assessment of the environmental risks of shale gas development in China.


Forest Tenure Reform in Asia and Africa: Local Control for Improved Livelihoods, Forest Management, and Carbon Sequestration

Forest tenure reforms are occurring in many developing countries around the world. These reforms typically include devolution of forest lands to local people and communities, which has attracted a great deal of attention and interest. While the nature and level of devolution vary by country, all have potentially important implications for resource allocation, local ecosystem services, livelihoods and climate change. 


The Environment for Development Initiative: lessons learned in research, academic capacity building and policy intervention to manage resources for sustainable growth

This article reviews the history of the Environment for Development (EfD) initiative, its activities in capacity building and policy-oriented research, and case studies at its centres in Chile, China, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania.


Characteristics of residential energy consumption in China: Findings from a household survey

Highlights • We develop the first comprehensive survey of residential energy consumption in China. • A typical Chinese household in 2012 consumed 1426 kilograms coal equivalent. • Space heating accounts for half of energy demand. • A large rural–urban gap exists in terms of energy sources and end-use activities. • Results reveal challenges and opportunities for China׳s energy policy.   Abstract


The Economic Impact of Weather Variability on China’s Rice Sector

This paper provides the first county-level analysis of the impacts of weather variability on rice yield in China, by compiling a unique panel on irrigated single-season rice and daily weather data. We found that temperature and solar radiation had statistically significant impacts on rice yield during the vegetative and ripening stages, while the effects of rainfall on yield were not significant.


Will a Driving Restriction Policy Reduce Car Trips? A Case Study of Beijing, China

A driving restriction policy, as a control-and-command rationing measure, is a politically acceptable policy tool to address traffic congestion and air pollution in some countries and cities. Beijing was the first city in China to implement this policy. A one-day-a-week driving restriction scheme was expected to take 20 percent of cars off the road every weekday.


EfD China Center Report 2012/13

This report presents EfD China, its members and work during 2012/13.For a free hardcopy, please send an email to:


Forest land rights, tenure types, and farmers' investment incentives in China: An empirical study of Fujian Province

Purpose – The purpose of this study is to assess the impact of land rights and tenure types on farmers' investment behavior in Chinese collective forests, using household survey data from Fujian Province. Design/methodology/approach – In this study, the authors conducted a household survey in Fujian province of 520 randomly selected forest farmers. The authors used a random-effects Tobit model to estimate the impact of land rights and other components on, for example, tenure security and harvest quota, and the impact of tenure types on farmers' investment incentives.


Travel Mode Choice and Impact of Fuel Tax in Beijing

As an international metropolitan area undergoing rapid development, Beijing is facing a sharp rise in the volume of motor vehicles and mobility, which has become the major contributor to the air pollution in this city.


Easy come, easy go

A growing number of experimental studies focus on the differences between the lab and the field. One important difference between many lab and field experiments is how the endowment is obtained. By conducting a dictator game experiment, we investigate the influences of windfall and earned endowment on behavior in the laboratory and in the field.


Property rights, tenure security and forest investment incentives: evidence from China's Collective Forest Tenure Reform

This paper assesses how tenure reform in China's collective forest sector affects Chinese farmer households’ perception of tenure security and propensity to invest in their forestland. A large database consisting of information from 3,180 households in eight provinces from south to north is used to explore factors correlated with more strongly perceived tenure security and determinants of forest-related investment.


The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—A multiple country test of an oath script

Hypothetical bias is one of the main issues bedeviling the field of nonmarket valuation. The general criticism is that survey responses reflect how people would like to behave, rather than how they actually behave. In our study of climate change and carbon emissions reductions, based on the increasing bulk of evidence from psychology and economics regarding the effects of making promises, we investigate the effect of an oath script in a contingent valuation survey.


On Social Sanctions and Beliefs: A Pollution Norm Example

A prevailing view in the literature is that social sanctions can support, in equilibrium, high levels of obedience to a costly norm. The reason is that social disapproval and stigmatization faced by the disobedient are highest when disobedience is the exception rather than the rule in society.


EfD China Center Report 2011/12

This report presents EfD China, its members and work during 2011/12.For a free hardcopy, please send an email to:


Automobile Usage and Urban Rail Transit Expansion

Using individual travel diary data collected before and after the rail transit coverage expansion in urban Beijing, this paper estimates the impact of rail accessibility improvement on the usage of rail transit, automobiles, buses, walking, and bicycling, measured as percent distance traveled by each mode in an individual trip.


China’s environmental challenges going rural and west

China is increasingly suffering from ‘growing pains’ of severe environmental challenges arising during the past decades’ economic boom (Fu et al, 2007; Liu and Diamond, 2008). While this has been widely discussed, more attention and effort has been focused on the problems directly resulting from urbanization and industrialization, such as growing greenhouse gas emissions and worsening urban air and water quality


Ownership, autonomy, incentives and efficiency: Evidence from the forest product processing industry in China

Using enterprise-level data from China's Northeast-Inner Mongolia state-owned forest area for the year 2004, this paper investigates the technical efficiency of forest product processing mills and the relationship between institutional and managerial practices and efficiency. A two-stage procedure proposed by Simar and Wilson (2007) is adopted. In the first stage, a bootstrapped data envelopment analysis (DEA) model is used to compute the efficiency scores.


Effects of environmental policy on consumption: lessons from the Chinese plastic bag regulation

To reduce plastic bag litter, China introduced a nationwide regulation requiring all retailers to charge for plastic shopping bags on 1 June 2008. By using the policy implementation as a natural experiment and collecting individual-level data before and after the implementation, we investigate the impacts of the regulation on consumers’ bag use. We find that the regulation implementation caused a 49 per cent reduction in the use of new bags.


Environmental information transparency and implications for green growth in China

Environmental information transparency performs social and learning functions indispensable for green growth. Still facing the challenges of a lack of local commitment and less than optimal institutional capacity, there is no doubt that China has made substantial progress on granting and enforcing public right to environmental information.