Air Quality Warnings and Temporary Driving Bans: Evidence from Air Pollution, Car Trips, and Mass-Transit Ridership in Santiago

Produced by: 
Available from: 
November 2019
Paper author(s): 
Nathaly Rivera
Topic: 
Environmental Economics
Year: 
2020

Driving restrictions are a common governmental strategy to reduce airborne pollution and traffic congestion in many cities of the world. Using high-frequency data on air pollution, car trips, and mass-transit systems ridership, I evaluate the effectiveness of temporary driving bans triggered by air quality warnings in Santiago, Chile. I employ a fuzzy regression discontinuity design that uses the thresholds in the air quality index used to announce these warnings as instruments for their announcement. Results show that these temporary bans reduce car trips by 6-9% during peak hours, and by 7-8% during off-peak hours. This is consistent with air pollution reductions during peak hours, and with increases in the use of Santiago’s mass-transit systems during hours the systems run with excess capacity. Increments in mass-transit ridership uncover the importance of alternatives modes of transportation in securing the effectiveness of temporary driving bans.

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