MIT Center for Real Estate professor Siqi Zheng’s new paper was published this month in Nature Human Behavior. MIT News wrote an excellent summary and interview available here.
Air pollution lowers Chinese urbanites’ expressed happiness on social media
Siqi Zheng, Jianghao Wang, CongSun, Xiaonan Zhang, Matthew E. Kahn
High levels of air pollution in China may contribute to the
urban population’s reported low level of happiness*. To test
this claim, we have constructed a daily city-level expressed
happiness metric based on the sentiment in the contents of
210 million geotagged tweets on the Chinese largest micro-
blog platform Sina Weibo*, and studied its dynamics rela-
tive to daily local air quality index and PM concentrations
(fine particulate matter with diameters equal or smaller than
2.5 μm, the most prominent air pollutant in Chinese cities).
Using daily data for 144 Chinese cities in 2014, we document
that, on average, a one standard deviation increase in the
PM 2.5 concentration (or Air Quality Index) is associated with
a 0.043 (or 0.046) standard deviation decrease in the hap-
piness index. People suffer more on weekends, holidays and
days with extreme weather conditions. The expressed hap-
piness of women and the residents of both the cleanest and
dirtiest cities are more sensitive to air pollution. Social media
data provides real-time feedback for China’s government
about rising quality of life concerns.