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Research Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society | IREES Research

Unequal health risks of air pollution among different income groups in China | Ruoqi Li

Ruoqi Li
Ruoqi Li

Field | Discipline

  • Environmental inequity
  • Environmental health
  • Environmental planning and management


  • Input-output analysis
  • Health risk assessment


As socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, the principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved. Promoting the social equity now becomes a significant political task in China. Equity is of rich connotation in the field of environment. My project will mainly focus on the equity among different populations.

The population equity issue is particularly typical when it comes to air pollution health risk. Residents are not only victims, but also drivers of the air pollution health risks. It should be noted that the differences in consumption patterns between different income groups may lead to different contributions to atmospheric emissions. That is to say, the risks generated are different. At the same time, due to the spatial distribution and self-protection strategies, the health risk levels faced by different groups are different as well. It is of great significance to quantify the unequal health risks in China, based on the matching of risk generation and risk allocation between groups.

In my project I will try to quantitatively assess the equity of air pollution health risks among different incomes groups in China. In order to do so, an integrated research framework is developed, which includes three work packages.

Accounting of emissions driven by consumption of different income groups:

In order to solve the limitations of the relatively rough categories of consumption expenditure in previous studies, this study will introduce several detailed survey databases to build a refined consumption matrix taking the difference between income groups into consideration.

Health risk assessment of air pollution undertaken by different income groups:

Lack of high-resolution socioeconomic data poses great challenges to the exposure assessment in previous assessment of health risks among different population groups. The emergence of data mining, machine learning provides a new perspective for large-scale, high-resolution data acquisition in China. This study will integrate the above methods into the conventional exposure assessment framework and build a systematic method for assessing the health risks of air pollution in different income groups.

Equity evaluation of air pollution health risks among different income groups:

Most of the relative studies mainly follows a same principle that all residents should suffer the same risk level. The difference in contribution to pollution is usually ignored. In this study, I will establish several indexes based on the matching of risk generation and risk allocation among different income groups. Eventually, the key groups which make great contribution to the unequal problem and typical regions with the most serious unequal situation will be identified. Policy implications can be delivered to support the more reasonable and equal decision-making in risk management and pollution abatement policy designs.

Supervision by

  • Promotor Prof. dr. Klaus Hubacek | Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society - IREES | ESRIG, University of Groningen.
  • Co-promotor Prof. dr. Jun Bi | State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, School of the Environment, Nanjing University.
  • Co-promotor Prof. dr. Jinnan Wang | State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Environmental Planning and Policy Simulation, Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning.

Contact details:

Energy Academy Europe, Nijeborgh 6, 9747 AG Groningen
E-mail |

Last modified:10 November 2021 2.43 p.m.