Panel Paper: The Impacts of Target Oriented Environmental Policies on Air Pollution Control: Evidence from Chinese Cities

Friday, November 9, 2018
Taylor - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Mengmeng Xu, Xi’an Jiao Tong University and Jiannan Wu, Shanghai Jiaotong University

In recent years, China has witnessed a wide range of fog-haze pollution, the regional atmospheric environment problems characterized by inhalable particulate matter and fine particulate matter are becoming increasingly prominent. A series of air pollution control policy instruments, e.g., the promulgation of the “12th Five-Year Plan for air pollution prevention in key areas” and the "Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan”, have been implemented by the Chinese government, which firstly focus on specific performance targets for local cities in China. The goal setting process is not only driven by a local government, but also involves a complex interaction network of policy actors from national government, provincial government, and neighboring cities. Therefore, the goal oriented environmental policies could be seen as policy tools designed under the collaborative environmental governance. The research question that we are interested in asking is: how do the current target-oriented environmental policies affect air quality improvement in Chinese cities?

Performance goal setting has been widely recognized as an important tool for performance management in public organizations, including public education, environmental protection and economic development (Gary et al., 2008; Rutherford and Meier, 2015; Punnett, 2015; Liang and Langbein, 2016; MA, 2016; Rapaport,2001). Despite an extensive literature on goal setting, researches on the impact of performance goal setting in regional air pollution control have been largely absent.

This paper investigates air pollution control policies by evaluating the impact of performance target setting (quantities and levels) on local air quality in environmental policies. Based on a panel data regression analysis on a sample of 293 local cities over an eleven-year period from 2006 to 2016, we find empirical support for the positive impacts of performance goal setting, and the interaction effects of the quantities performance targets and levels of performance targets on air quality improvement. Finally, our contribution and suggestions are discussed in the paper.