Background: The growing concern with environmental related impacts on mortality and morbidity means that the conceptual framework of environment-health-economic policy nexus is salient in the global debate on air pollution.
Objectives: With time series data spanning 2000–2016, this study explored the proximate determinants of ambient air pollution, mortality, and life expectancy in North America, Europe & Central Asia, and East Asia & Pacific regions.
Methods: The study applied historical data on urban population, total pollution, energy consumption, GDP per capita, life expectancy, mortality rate and industrial PM2.5 emissions to develop six parsimonious models using the generalized least squares (GLS) random-effects model estimation with first-order autoregressive [AR(1)] disturbance across 54 countries.
Results: An increase in income level by 1% declined mortality rate by 0.01% and increased longevity by ~0.02% (95% Confidence Interval [CI]) in the long-run. An increase in industrial PM2.5 emissions per capita by 1% decreased life expectancy by 0.004% and mortality rate by 0.02% (95% CI). Intensification of energy consumption and its related services by 1% were found to increase industrial PM2.5 emissions by 0.42–0.45% (95% CI). An inversed-U shaped curve between PM2.5 emissions per capita and income levels was found at a turning point of US$ 48,061. The validity of an environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis between ambient air pollution and urbanization was confirmed, while a rapid increase in population had a significant positive impact on ambient air pollution.
Conclusion: Ambient air pollution contributes significantly in reducing life expectancy and increasing mortality. However, sustained economic development, along with energy efficiency, and sustainable urban settlement planning and management are potential options for reducing ambient air pollution while improving quality of life and environmental sustainability.
- Air pollution
- EKC hypothesis
- Energy consumption
- Environmental sustainability
- Mortality rate
- Panel data