Density, Cities and Air Pollution: A Global View

36 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2020 Last revised: 5 Dec 2020

See all articles by David Castells-Quintana

David Castells-Quintana

Autonomous University of Barcelona - Department of Applied Economics; University of Barcelona - Regional Quantitative Analysis Group (AQR-IREA)

Elisa Dienesch

Sciences Po Aix; AMU-AMSE

Melanie Krause

University of Hamburg - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 16, 2020

Abstract

In this paper, we take a global view at air pollution looking at countries and cities worldwide. In doing so, we revisit the relationship between population density and air pollution, using i) a large panel of countries with data from 1960 to 2010, and ii) a unique and large sample of more than 1200 (big) cities around the world, combining pollution data with satellite data on built-up areas, population and light intensity at night at the grid-cell level for the last two decades. At the country level, we find that higher density in urban areas is associated with lower CO2 and PM2.5 emissions per capita. This result is supported at the city level; denser cities show lower emissions per capita. Our finding is robust to several controls and different estimation techniques and identification strategies. In our city level analysis, we also investigate the role of various characteristics of cities, in particular their average income, size and spatial structure (indicating within-city differences in density). We find evidence of an Environmental Kuznets Curve between economic development and pollution and that a polycentric city structure leads to lower pollution in the largest urban areas, while monocentricity seems beneficial for smaller cities.

Keywords: Density, pollution, cities, city structure, development

JEL Classification: R11, Q53, O18, R12

Suggested Citation

Castells-Quintana, David and Dienesch, Elisa and Krause, Melanie, Density, Cities and Air Pollution: A Global View (October 16, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3713325 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3713325

David Castells-Quintana (Contact Author)

Autonomous University of Barcelona - Department of Applied Economics ( email )

Departamento de Economía Aplicada
Bellaterra, Barcelona 08193
Spain

University of Barcelona - Regional Quantitative Analysis Group (AQR-IREA) ( email )

Tower IV
Av. Diagonal 690
Barcelona, 08034
Spain

Elisa Dienesch

Sciences Po Aix ( email )

25 rue Gaston de Saporta
Aix-en-Provence Cedex 1, 13625
France
13625 (Fax)

AMU-AMSE ( email )

Maison de l'économie et de la gestion d'Aix
424 chemin du viaduc
Aix-en-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône 13080
France

Melanie Krause

University of Hamburg - Department of Economics ( email )

Von-Melle-Park 5
room 2128 C rise
Hamburg, 20146
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.melanie-krause.de

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