Although various studies have investigated public acceptance of congestion charge policies, most of them have focused on behavioral and policy-related factors, and did not consider the moderating influence that individual concern about smog and perceived smog risk may have on public acceptance. This paper takes the congestion charge policy in China, targeted at smog and traffic control, and checks how smog awareness—including smog concerns and perceived smog risks, besides behavioral and policy-related factors—might influence public acceptance of the policy. In this paper, we found both a direct and moderating causal relationship between smog awareness and public acceptance. Based on a sample of 574 valid questionnaires in Beijing and Shanghai in 2016, an ordered logistic regression modeling approach was used to delineate the causality between smog awareness and public acceptance. We found that both smog concerns, such as perceived smog risk, and willingness to pay (WTP) were both directly and indirectly positively correlated with public acceptance. These findings imply that policymakers should increase policy fairness with environmental-oriented policy design and should express potential policy effectiveness of the smog controlling policy to citizens to increase their acceptance level.
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