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How do the stay-at-home (SAH) orders affect air quality? Evidence from the northeastern USA

Karen Yan

Empirical Economics, 2023, vol. 64, issue 5, No 4, 2085-2103

Abstract: Abstract This paper examines whether the SAH orders, implemented in the USA from mid-March to late May 2020, improved air quality in the northeastern states. The estimates are based on panel data from the Environmental Protection Agency and an identification strategy that exploits the exogenous variation in the timing of the SAH orders. We find that the SAH orders reduced the concentrations of the air pollutants nitrogen dioxide ( $${\textrm{NO}}_2$$ NO 2 ) and carbon monoxide (CO), whose dominant source is motor vehicle emissions, by approximately 24% and 13%, respectively. The effects were larger for areas of high population density and areas near major roads. We also find that the reductions got smaller, and air pollution gradually approached normal levels, after the orders were lifted. This suggests that the air quality improvements were temporary.

Keywords: COVID-19; SAH orders; Air pollution; Panel data (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C13 C23 Q53 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023
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DOI: 10.1007/s00181-022-02318-1

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