The Impact of the Wuhan Covid-19 Lockdown on Air Pollution and Health: A Machine Learning and Augmented Synthetic Control Approach

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We quantify the impact of the Wuhan Covid-19 lockdown on concentrations of four air pollutants using a two-step approach. First, we use machine learning to remove the confounding effects of weather conditions on pollution concentrations. Second, we use a new augmented synthetic control method (Ben-Michael et al. in The augmented synthetic control method. University of California Berkeley, Mimeo, 2019. to estimate the impact of the lockdown on weather normalised pollution relative to a control group of cities that were not in lockdown. We find NO 2 concentrations fell by as much as 24 μ g/m 3 during the lockdown (a reduction of 63% from the pre-lockdown level), while PM10 concentrations fell by a similar amount but for a shorter period. The lockdown had no discernible impact on concentrations of SO 2 or CO. We calculate that the reduction of NO 2 concentrations could have prevented as many as 496 deaths in Wuhan city, 3368 deaths in Hubei province and 10,822 deaths in China as a whole.

Bibliographic note

© Springer Nature B.V. 2020.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalEnvironmental and Resource Economics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Aug 2020