Numerous studies have investigated the relationship between income inequality and objective environmental pollution, but few focus on the nexus between income inequality and subjective environmental pollution (SEP). Using micro data from the Chinese General Society Survey (CGSS) in 2013 and official statistical data at the provincial level, this paper tests the impact of individual-level income inequality on subjective environmental pollution in China. The results show that individual-level income inequality has an inverted U-shape relationship with subjective environmental pollution, which indicates that increasing the income inequality at the individual level will first rise and then reduce their perceived subjective environmental pollution after reaching the peak. For about 84% of respondents, their subjective environmental pollution decreases with the increase of individual-level income inequality. Furthermore, the heterogeneity analyses show that the income inequality of urban residents and of the locals have an inverted U-shape effect on SEP, and the SEP of females and of individuals with positive environmental attitude are more sensitive to the effect of income inequality. Additionally, we find that subjective well-being plays a mediating role in the relation between income inequality and SEP. Individual income inequality decreases their self-reported well-being, and an increase in well-being has a negative effect on their subjectively perceived environmental quality. We also find non-television media exposures, such as newspaper, magazine, broadcasting, Internet, and mobile custom messages, will amplify the effect of individual-level income inequality on subjective environmental pollution.
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