CFC Urban China Seminar — Guojun He

Monday, March 05, 2018 at 12:30pm to 2:00pm

Topic: Environmental Regulation and Firm Productivity in China: Estimates from a Regression Discontinuity Design

You are cordially invited to the MIT China Future City Lab (MIT-CFC) Urban China Seminar held on Monday, March 5th at 12:30 pm-2:00 pm in the room 9-450. We will be hosting Prof. Guojun He from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), to speak on “Environmental Regulation and Firm Productivity in China: Estimates from a Regression Discontinuity Design." Please see the abstract and a short bio of the speaker below.

The MIT-CFC seminar series, debuting this spring semester, is a monthly or bimonthly gathering of scholars from a variety of fields interested in urban China research. We will invite distinguished scholars to share their research and insights on a wide range of topics that could provoke discussions and exchange of ideas that matter for China’s urbanization and sustainable growth.

We look forward to seeing you. Lunch will be provided! 


This paper estimates the effect of environmental regulation on productivity using a regression discontinuity design implicit in China’s water quality monitoring system. Because water quality readings are important for political evaluations, and the monitoring stations only capture emissions from upstream, local governments are incentivized to enforce tighter environmental regulations on firms immediately upstream of a monitoring station, rather than those immediately downstream. Exploiting this discontinuity, we find that upstream firms’ TFP is 27% lower than that of downstream firms. China’s water-pollution abatement target (2016-2020) would lead to roughly one trillion Chinese Yuan (159 billion USD) loss in industrial output value.

Prof. He’s bio:

Guojun He is an assistant professor appointed jointly at Division of Social Science, Division of Environment and Sustainability, and Department of Economics at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). He is also a faculty affiliate of HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies and Institute for Public Policy. Before joining HKUST, he was a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard University and obtained his Ph.D. degree from U.C. Berkeley. He received undergraduate education from Peking University. Prof He's Research focuses on China's environmental, health and development issues.

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