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Apart from posing serious threat to health, air pollution also impacts happiness

The Tribune 2017-11-10 12:32:00

Tourists wear masks to protect themselves from heavy smog and air pollution in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI photoVibha Sharma
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 10
That pollution has direct debilitating effects on human health is well established. However, that these lethal pollutants are also adversely impacting mental health has also been established by a research conducted by US-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) As De;hi chokes in pollution, the IFPRI research investigating the impact of air pollution on mental health and subjective well-being has found that exposure to air pollution over time reduces hedonic happiness and increases the rate of depressive symptoms.  It also found that the adverse impact is particularly telling in people who are more concerned with environmental problems, work outdoors, earn lower incomes, reside in less polluted areas, or have young children.  The findings, drawn from the research titled, ‘Happiness in the air: How does a dirty sky affect mental health and subjective well-being?” has been conducted by. Xiaobo Zhang, a Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI, in Beijing. "Beijing has suffered severe air pollution over the past few years, and findings from our research on air pollution in the city show that it adversely impacts residents’ state of happiness and they are likely to develop depressive symptoms.  "The research may in fact hold lessons for India as well, given it is facing a similar situation in its capital city, New Delhi.  "We found when exposed to severe air pollution, people are more likely to develop depressive symptoms, feel less happy, and perform worse in cognitive tests. "The negative impact is stronger for men than for women and is more pronounced for the less educated and outdoor workers,” Zhan says in the recent issue of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. Adds IFPRI: Previous studies evaluating the welfare cost of air pollution have not paid much attention to its potential effect on mental health and subjective well-being (SWB). This paper attempts to fill the gap by investigating the impact of air pollution on several key dimensions, including mental health status, depressive symptoms, moment-to-moment happiness, and evaluative happiness.  "By making use of variations in exposure to air pollution for the same individuals over time, the research shows that air pollution reduces hedonic happiness and is an important contributor to the Easterlin paradox that economic growth may not bring more happiness,” it adds.

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