This study empirically evaluates the impact of air pollution on China’s economic growth, based on a province-level sample for the period 2002–2017. Air pollution is measured by the concentration of fine particulate matter (PM
), and economic growth is measured by the annual growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. A panel data fixed-effects regression model is built, and the instrumental variables estimation method is utilized for quantitative analyses. The study reports a significant negative impact of air pollution on the macroeconomic growth of China. According to our instrumental variables estimation, holding other factors constant, if the concentration of PM
increases by 1%, then the GDP per capita growth rate will decline by 0.05818 percentage points. In addition, it is found that the adverse effect of atmospheric pollution is heterogeneous across different regions. The effect is stronger in the eastern region and in provinces with smaller state-owned enterprise shares, fewer governmental expenditures for public health services, and fewer medical resources. The study results reveal that air pollution poses a substantial threat to the sustainable economic growth of China. Taking actions to abate air pollution will generate great economic benefits, especially for those regions which are heavily damaged by pollution.
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