This paper finds that a 10-μg/m3 increase in airborne particulate matter
[particulate matter smaller than 10 μm (PM10)] reduces life expectancy
by 0.64 years (95% confidence interval = 0.21–1.07). This estimate
is derived from quasiexperimental variation in PM10 generated by
China’s Huai River Policy, which provides free or heavily subsidized coal
for indoor heating during the winter to cities north of the Huai River
but not to those to the south. The findings are derived from a regression
discontinuity design based on distance from the Huai River, and
they are robust to using parametric and nonparametric estimation
methods, different kernel types and bandwidth sizes, and adjustment
for a rich set of demographic and behavioral covariates. Furthermore,
the shorter lifespans are almost entirely caused by elevated rates of
cardiorespiratory mortality, suggesting that PM10 is the causal factor.
The estimates imply that bringing all of China into compliance with its
Class I standards for PM10 would save 3.7 billion life-years.