In this paper, we explore the association between air pollution and the mental health and depression of older adults in China. Along with the rapid economic development, concerns about air pollution and recognition of the importance of mental health have risen remarkably in China. Although no firm evidence of an association between air pollution and overall mental health has been found, the results show significant evidence of a positive relationship between air pollution and depression. Moreover, we observe the presence of concerns about environmental inequality, as people are more sensitive to contaminations caused by pollutants with high variation in densities across counties, such as PM2.5, PM10, and SO2. Although O3 has a high average absolute density, the impact on mental health is low due to the limited variations nationwide. Physical fitness, gender, relative income, marital status, and social contacts are also found to be related to mental health and depression of older adults.



Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for Research in Energy and Environment (CREE)

Keywords and Phrases

Air pollution; Depression; Mental health; Older adults

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

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Creative Commons Licensing

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Publication Date

01 Feb 2020

Included in

Economics Commons