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Global air quality inequality over 2000-2020

Lutz Sager

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Abstract: Air pollution generates substantial health damages and economic costs worldwide. Pollution exposure varies greatly, both between countries and within them. However, the degree of air quality inequality and its' trajectory over time have not been quantified at a global level. Here I use economic inequality indices to measure global inequality in exposure to ambient fine particles with 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM2.5). I find high and rising levels of global air quality inequality. The global PM2.5 Gini Index increased from 0.32 in 2000 to 0.36 in 2020, exceeding levels of income inequality in many countries. Air quality inequality is mostly driven by differences between countries and less so by variation within them, as decomposition analysis shows. A large share of people facing the highest levels of PM2.5 exposure are concentrated in only a few countries. The findings suggest that research and policy efforts that focus only on differences within countries are overlooking an important global dimension of environmental justice.

Date: 2023-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ene, nep-env and nep-pke
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Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:2307.15669