PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (6): 1028-1040.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2022.06.007

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Effects of PM2.5 concentration on mortality in China: A study based on city-level panel data

CHEN Man1,2,3(), HUANG Baishi1,2,3, LIU Ye1,2,3,*()   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510006, China
    2. Guangdong Key Laboratory for Urbanization and Geo-simulation, Guangzhou 510006, China
    3. Guangdong Provincial Engineering Research Center for Public Security and Disaster, Guangzhou 510006, China
  • Received:2021-10-22 Revised:2021-12-26 Online:2022-06-28 Published:2022-08-28
  • Contact: LIU Ye;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(42171196);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41930646);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41971194);The Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities(20lgzd10);China Postdoctoral Science Foundation(2020M683149)


Health hazards and risks caused by air pollution have become a public topic. Ecological civilization construction and "Healthy China" strategy emphasize the alleviation of environmental stressors and the construction of healthy living environment. Using city-level data of population census and the 1% provincial sample demographic survey from 2000 to 2015, this study examined the spatial-temporal patterns of mortality and the effects of PM2.5 concentration on mortality based on spatial regression models. It further examined the moderation effects of regional socioeconomic conditions on the PM2.5 concentration-mortality association. Analytical results are as follows: 1) There is a considerable regional variation in mortality rate in China. Cities with high mortality rates initially were maincdly concentrated in Southwest China, and they become increasingly concentrated in Southwest China, North China, East China, and Central China after 2005. Cities with low mortality rates have long been concentrated in Northwest China, Northeast China, the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, and Beijing and Tianjin. 2) There is a significant spatial correlation in mortality rates. From 2000 to 2015, mortality rates became increasingly concentrated in particular regions. High-high type areas were concentrated in the southwest in the early stage and then expanded to the east. Low-low type areas are mainly distributed in the north of Xinjiang, the west of Inner Mongolia, and Guangdong Province and its surrounding areas. 3) The concentration of PM2.5 has a positive correlation with mortality rates and a significant spatial spillover effect on mortality rates in neighboring areas. 4) The impact of PM2.5 on mortality is subject to the influences of educational differences and urban-rural divides: regions with great concentration of highly educated people are less vulnerable to PM2.5 health impact, and areas with a low level of urbanization are more subject to health risks of PM2.5. The results show that regional prevention and control of air pollution is important, and in order to reduce health risks, more attention should be paid to the development of high-quality urbanization, optimization of economic structure, and promotion of residents' health literacy. Our findings can provide a scientific reference for the environmental risk assessment of air pollution and the construction of healthy living environments.

Key words: concentration of PM2.5, mortality rates, spatial regression model, moderation effect, China