Environmental Study论文模板 – How Is the China Economic Development From 1990 to 2018 Related to Air Pollution, How Does It Impact the Population?

 1. Literature Review

1.1 Introduction

China has been experiencing rapid economic growth and development in the past 28 years thanks to the country’s favorable and progressive economic policies. Before 1990, China maintained inefficient economic policies which promoted poverty, stagnation, central economic control and relative isolation from the global economy. The government implemented reforms that opened up the economy to investments and trade from abroad as well as instituted economic reforms in the late 70s and early 80s (Garnaut, Song, & Cai, 2018). Since the implementation of these reforms, China has been among the fastest growing countries in the globe. Due to the policies, China has been able to double its economic growth after every 8 years in the past forty years while helping several people out of poverty. The country is now the globe’s biggest economy and boasts the highest consumer buying power and trades of merchandise. In addition, China has the highest production capacity of foreign exchange reserves (Morrison, 2018). The country maintained an average economic growth of almost 9.5% between 1990 and 2017, which was referred to by the World Bank as the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history.

However, the economic development over the years has not come with costs especially in regards to the environment. The country has seen many industries and manufacturing plants established over the years. The opening of the economy to the outside world has also seen manufacturing plants and factories from developed economies pour into the country. Many of the industries and plants are inefficient and produce huge volumes of emissions which pollute the air. This paper provides in-depth insight into the correlation between this accelerated economic growth, the resulting environmental pollution and the subsequent impact on the country’s population.

1.2 China’s Economic Development between 1990 and 2018 and Air Pollution

Following the implementation of these reforms and open policies in China, huge and dark smokes of smokes could be seen in the Chinese skies emanating from factories and manufacturing plants in the country (Li, 2010). This was attributable to the fact that, although there were environmental policies and laws to curb air pollution, their enforcement was still wanting since the government was more concerned with the development and the economic well-being of the people than the environment (Vogel, 2013). The factories were inefficient and lacked appropriate and sufficient air pollution control mechanisms. In the 2000s, clearer skies were noticeable because China had already reached its intended economic development objectives and it had executed and effectively enforced the air pollution policies that were in place (Garnaut & Song, 2006; Garnaut, Song, Cai, & Johnston, 2015). Owing to these laws and policies, the manufacturers based in China have developed efficient manufacturing ways and air pollution controls enabling them to balance between air pollution and production. China is known for being a notorious air polluter in the world. In every 20 cities plagued with high pollution levels, about 16 can be found in China (Liu, & Diamond, 2005). The air pollution in the country has been exacerbated by the economic development realized within the last three decades (Liu, & Diamond, 2008). Carbon monoxide and particulate matter are some of the most common sources of pollution. Others include nitrogen dioxide as well as sulfur dioxide (Stone, 2008; Wong, 2013). Vehicular emissions contribute approximately 70% of the total air pollution in Beijing.

According to Khan & Chang (2018), while the needs of the Chinese society demand increased production units, industrial development is a source of many environmental challenges. They further postulate that despite several environmental protection laws put in place by the Chinese government, China continues to contribute almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. The country’s gas emission grows at 50% annually. They advise that the Chinese government should prioritize environment-friendly society and low-carbon economy. While the study’s findings are valid given the current status quo, it is more of criticism than informative.

Hernandez, (2015) links the real origin of China’s air pollution to the historical “reform and open” which brought about the new phase of economic advancement. Despite China having put in place laws and policies to balance between environmental protection and economic development, there are still gaps in the use and dissemination of information, policy making and implementation, air quality management, and credibility of the data. While Hernandez, (2015) clearly describes these gaps, he does not explain how they can be closed and how the public in China can be made part of air pollution management. He & Zhang (2002) studied the status of air pollution in the major industrial cities in China while describing features of different air pollutants. They used vehicle emissions control and acid rain control to illustrate the actions the Chinese government has in place to control air pollution. Like the studies above, the study established that the Chinese government policies and laws aimed at controlling the environment are not sufficient to ensure clear air in Chinese cities. Luo et al., (2014) questioned the authenticity of the proposition that economic development in China has a direct relationship with air pollution. The results of the study showed that there is a spike in air pollution during the initial phase of economic developments. The reasons for this was that as economic development continues, people note the dangers of resultant air pollution and in response to formulate and implement policies and invest highly in air pollution controls. The finding was proved by the fact that the more developed cities in eastern China had less air pollution as compared to the towns in the northeastern and central regions of the country. The increased air pollution in the less developed cities in this region was attributed to vehicular emission and ineffective air control policies and mechanisms. Since the study was based on evidence and therefore its findings are clear, almost accurate and comprehensive given that it is focused on specific Chinese provinces and comparisons between air pollution statutes.

1.3 Studies on Correlation between Economic Development and Air Pollution

Kukla-Gryz, (2009) studied the relationship between economic development structure and air pollution. She hypothesized that the two have a causal relationship and that they are greatly impacted by global trade, freedom house index and per capita income. The study showed that air pollution, particularly in developing economies, are a result of alterations in social and economic activities that stem from global trade. In the developed countries, the effect is usually direct and its occurrence is primarily through income effect and scale effect. The study’s finding proves that economic development causes air pollution both in developed and developing countries.

Air pollution is particularly an issue of great global concern. For instance, the New York Times asserts that India alone contributes 9 among the world’s top 10 cities with the highest level of pollution. (Habib & Kumar, 2019). The Urban smog in such polluted cities is catastrophic with estimates reporting that close to 1.25 million individuals died in 2017 as a direct result of air pollution (Reuters, 2018). This trend is likely to continue if no remedial measures are put in place.

Similarly, Holian (2014) utilized data from towns in India to estimate air pollution functions in the country. He analyzed the impact of wage, literacy, population as well as other relevant factors on the 4 measures of air pollution. Out of the 4, sulfur dioxide made up two measures while the rest were from both nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. The study demonstrated that there was a variation in how socio-economic developments affect air pollution. This variation depends on the type and extent of pollution and development. Additionally, there was a disproportionate correlation between particulate matter and income. No relationships were established between wage and emissions of sulfur dioxide. At the same time, wage was directly proportionate to the emissions of nitrogen dioxide. In general, the study proves that economic development results to a subsequent increase in air pollution.

1. 4 Effect of Air Pollution on the Chinese Population

The rise in air pollution in China over the years has had a debilitating consequence on Chinese population. The industry is the leading contributor to air pollutants due to the burning of dirty coal. Vehicular emissions come second, especially in the Chinese cities. Air pollution has been known to cause both premature deaths and economic loss to the Chinese population. Air pollution is killing over one million Chinese people each year and costing the economy an estimated 267 billion Yuan (0.66% of annual gross domestic income). Particularly, two pollutants have been found responsible for causing 1.1 million premature deaths on the Chinese population (Kao, 2018). Due to exposure to ozone, China loses approximated 200 million tons of combined maize, wheat, and rice each year. The economic costs arise mainly from healthcare costs associated with air pollution as well as the work hours lost.

1.5 Summary of Literature                                         

The studies above have shown that economic development as an effect of increasing air pollution. They have also shown that China’s air pollution problems were exacerbated by the economic development resulting from the Chinese government “reform and open” policies initiated in the late 70s and early 80s. The increased air pollution has had serious impacts on the Chinese population by causing premature deaths, diseases, and economic challenges. While the studies are thorough in studying the relationship between economic development and air pollution, most of them are either criticizing the policies and laws or supporting them. The current study has provided an in-depth look into the relationship while emphasizing the need for the population to be involved in the air pollution control mechanisms

2. Methodology

The study will use a qualitative methodology to study the relationship between economic development and air pollution in China between 1990 and 2018. According to Denzin, & Yvonna (2005), qualitative study concentrates on the nature of reality as constructed by society. A qualitative researcher seeks to provide answers to the questions on how social experience is created and the meaning of the experience (Anderson, 2010). The research will use a purposeful design whereby the researcher will concentrate on the phenomenon of economic development realized in China between 1990 and 2018 and this will be related to the corresponding air pollution changes in order to gain in-depth insight on how they relate.

The study will use data from secondary sources. There are several peer-reviewed journals from the government libraries and non-government organizations regarding the economic progress in China and environment issues. The sources will be used to provide information on how the Chinese economy has changed over with emphasis put on the industrial additions and vehicles because they are the main contributors of air pollution in the country. Further, air pollution increments will be studied yearly in relation to the addition of economic development. Using data from secondary sources is advantageous since it saves in both time and cost of data collection (Artanian, 2011). They are also easily available and cut across both longitudinal and cross-sectional studies making the study more inclusive and comprehensive (Ghauri, 2005). They are, however, disadvantageous since they can give inappropriate data and the researcher does not have control of the data quality since they did not take part in its collection. In the present study, the government publication on economic and air pollution will be used with the assumption that the government cannot give erroneous information.

3. Conclusion

Through an appraisal of the progress of China’s economic development and the corresponding air pollution trends between the years 1990 and 2018, the paper will be in a position to understand the effectiveness of the policies that Chinese government has put in place to control air pollution. The researcher believes that there is sufficient supply of data from government publications and nongovernmental organization to supply data needed for the consummation of the study. At the end of the research, it is hoped that the paper will be able to advise on the effectiveness of what has been done, advise on what needs to be done and lastly, how the Chinese public can be made part of the fight to combat air pollution.


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