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Bad Air Days: The Effects of Air Quality on Different Measures of Subjective Well-Being

  • Paul Dolan (a1) and Kate Laffan (a2)

Abstract

Air pollution makes us feel bad when we think about it – but do bad air days really affect our subjective well-being (SWB) when we are not thinking about them? And if so, do they affect the range of possible measures of SWB in similar ways? Using data from over 165,000 individuals in the UK, we model evaluative, experiential and eudemonic SWB as a function of demographic and local area characteristics including the background concentration of particulate matter. Our results indicate that air pollution adversely affects all of the positive measure of SWB included in our analysis; how satisfied people report being with their lives overall, how happy they report feeling on the previous day and how worthwhile they rate their activities as being, and that it does so over and above its effects on self-reported health. These effects can be monetized and may imply greater priority being afforded to pollution abatement programs than is currently warranted based on existing estimates of the health effects alone.

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