Peer-reviewed Article
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The determinants of citizen complaints on environmental pollution: an empirical study from China

In Journal of Cleaner Production 19 (2011)
Yanli Dong, Masanobu Ishikawa, Shigeyuki Hamori

Using China’s environmental statistical data set for the period 2001e2006, this paper presents an extensive empirical analysis of the relationships among citizens’ environmental complaints, pollution intensities, and socio-economic characteristics. We found that exposure to harmful pollutants significantly influence people’s complaint behaviors because higher densities of chemical oxygen demand and SO2 emissions are correlated with a higher incidence of citizen’s complaints of water pollution and air pollution, respectively. In terms of demographical variables, household income has significantly positive impacts on the likelihood of citizens lodging environmental complaints regarding air, water, and solid
waste pollution. Citizens in municipality and coastal regions tend to complain more than those in interior regions. Our results support the view that environmental complaints can provide valuable information for regulators to efficiently allocate inspection resources; however, the information may be noisy since complaints are more likely to arise from wealthier and more-educated regions. In order to mitigate this problem, we argue that it may be helpful to strengthen basic education in poorer regions and to encourage environmental information disclosure for attracting more people’s attention to pollution
problems. In addition, regular inspection capabilities in poor and seriously polluted regions must be enhanced for investigating regulatory violation.

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