Publication - Working Paper
Urbanisation will be an important part of the development process for most low income countries, and demands for urban infrastructure construction will outpace the ability of policy makers to provide it. Given this, it is critical to develop an empirical basis for prioritising construction projects. What should policymakers do first? Build highways, subways, water treatment facilities, or open a title office? At present, the empirical foundations for these sorts of decisions are poor. By quantifying the effects of subways on air quality, the proposed project will contribute to our ability to choose infrastructure construction projects in a way that contributes more effectively to sustainable economic development.
This research investigates the effects of subways on urban air pollution, which is important for three reasons:
To our knowledge, the literature examining the relationship between subways and air pollution consists of a single paper. This paper examines a single subway expansion in central Taipei. Since we will examine all subway expansions between 2002 and 2013, we expect to provide a more definitive result.
This study is organised around data describing the location and date of opening of every subway station in the world, together with remote sensing data describing air pollution everywhere in the world — monthly, at a 3 km spatial resolution — from 2002 to 2015. These data are underutilised in the academic literature studying pollution, and we expect that an important contribution of this project will be to draw attention to these data.
Together these two data sources allow us to construct monthly data describing city level measures of air quality and subway extent. We will proceed by examining how urban air quality changes as the extent of the city’s subway network changes and will also be able to investigate whether subways change the distribution of pollution within a city.