Marco Gonzalez-Navarro, associate professor in the department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley presented Subways and Urban Air Quality at the ITS Berkeley Transportation Seminar Jan. 20, 2023 at 3 p.m.
Abstract: We investigate the effect of subway system openings on urban air pollution. On average, particulate concentrations are unchanged by subway openings. For cities with higher initial pollution levels, subway openings reduce particulates by 4 percent in the area surrounding a city center. The effect decays with distance to city center and persists over the longest time horizon that we can measure with our data, about four years. For highly polluted cities, we estimate that a new subway system provides an external mortality benefit of about $1 billion per year. For less polluted cities, the effect is indistinguishable from zero. Back of the envelope cost estimates suggest that reduced mortality due to lower air pollution offsets a substantial share of the construction costs of subways.
Bio: Marco Gonzalez-Navarro is associate professor in the department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC-Berkeley. His research focuses on issues Development Economics and Urban Economics. He has published on cost of living adjustments, subway infrastructure, retail globalization in emerging markets, rural land titling, transport infrastructure, crime, and political economy. His work has been published in the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Review of Economics and Statistics, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, and Journal of Development Economics. He received his B.A. in economics from ITAM in Mexico, his Ph.D. in Economics at Princeton University, and was previously an assistant professor at University of Toronto. He is a J-PAL and CEGA affiliate.