Cao, Jing

2021
Jing Cao, Mun S. Ho, Rong Ma, and Fei Teng. 2021. “When carbon emission trading meets a regulated industry: Evidence from the electricity sector of China.” Journal for Public Economics, 200, August, Pp. 104470. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This paper provides retrospective firm-level evidence on the effectiveness of China’s carbon market pilots in reducing emissions in the electricity sector. We show that the carbon emission trading system (ETS) has no effect on changing coal efficiency of regulated coal- fired power plants. Although we find a significant reduction in coal consumption associated with ETS participation, this reduction was achieved by reducing electricity production. The output contraction in the treated plants is not due to their optimizing behavior but is likely driven by government decisions, because the impacts of emission permits on marginal costs are small relative to the controlled electricity prices and the reduction is associated with financial losses. In addition, we find no evidence of carbon leakage to other provinces, but a significant increase in the production of non-coal-fired power plants in the ETS regions. 
Jinzhao Yang, Yu Zhao, Jing Cao, and Chris P. Nielsen. 2021. “Co-benefits of carbon and pollution control policies on air quality and health till 2030 in China.” Environment International, 152, July, Pp. 106482. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Facing the dual challenges of climate change and air pollution, China has made great efforts to explore the co-control strategies for the both. We assessed the benefits of carbon and pollution control policies on air quality and human health, with an integrated framework combining an energy-economic model, an air quality model and a concentration–response model. With a base year 2015, seven combined scenarios were developed for 2030 based on three energy scenarios and three end-of-pipe control ones. Policy-specific benefits were then evaluated, indicated by the reduced emissions, surface concentrations of major pollutants, and premature deaths between scenarios. Compared to the 2030 baseline scenario, the nationwide PM2.5- and O3-related mortality was expected to decline 23% or 289 (95% confidence interval: 220–360) thousand in the most stringent scenario, and three quarters of the avoided deaths were attributed to the end-of-pipe control measures. Provinces in heavily polluted and densely populated regions would benefit more from carbon and pollution control strategies. The population fractions with PM2.5 exposure under the national air quality standard (35 μg/m3) and WHO guideline (10 μg/m3) would be doubled from 2015 to 2030 (the most stringent scenario), while still very few people would live in areas with the WHO guideline achieved for O3 (100 μg/m3). Increased health impact of O3 suggested a great significance of joint control of PM2.5 and O3 in future policy-making.
Jing Cao, Hancheng Dai, Shantong Li, Chaoyi Guo, Mun Ho, Wenjia Cai, Jianwu He, Hai Huang, Jifeng Li, Yu Liu, Haoqi Qian, Can Wang, Libo Wu, and Xiliang Zhang. 2021. “The general equilibrium impacts of carbon tax policy in China: a multi-model assessment.” Energy Economics, 99, July, Pp. 105284. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We conduct a multi-model comparison of a carbon tax policy in China to examine how different models simulate the impacts in both near-term 2020, medium-term 2030, and distant future 2050. Though Top-down computable general equilibrium(CGE) models have been applied frequently on climate or other environmental/energy policies to assess emission reduction, energy use and economy-wide general equilibrium outcomes in China, the results often vary greatly across models, making it challenging to derive policies. We compare 8 China CGE models with different characteristics to examine how they estimate the effects of a plausible range of carbon tax scenarios – low, medium and high carbon taxes.. To make them comparable we impose the same population growth, the same GDP growth path and world energy price shocks. We find that the 2030 NDC target for China are easily met in all models, but the 2060 carbon neutrality goal cannot be achieved even with our highest carbon tax rates. Through this carbon tax comparison, we find all 8 CGE models differ substantially in terms of impacts on the macroeconomy, aggregate prices, energy use and carbon reductions, as well as industry level output and price effects. We discuss the reasons for the divergent simulation results including differences in model structure, substitution parameters, baseline renewable penetration and methods of revenue recycling.
2020
Jing Cao, Mun S. Ho, and Wenhao Hu. 2020. “Analyzing carbon price policies using a general equilibrium model with household energy demand functions.” In Measuring Economic Growth and Productivity: Foundations, KLEMS Production Models, and Extensions, edited by Barbara Fraumeni. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Multi-sector general equilibrium models are used to simulate the effects of environmental policies on industry output and consumption at disaggregated levels. The specification of household demand in such models often use simpler forms such as CES or Linear Expenditure Systems since there are few estimates of more flexible systems. We estimate a 2-stage translog utility function that explicitly accounts for detailed energy expenditures to allow us to capture the price and income effects more accurately than these simpler forms. We incorporate this into a China growth model to simulate the effects of a carbon price to achieve the government targets for the Climate Change (Paris) agreements.

Final Manuscript in DASH.
An edited volume dedicated to Prof. Dale W. Jorgenson by his students and collaborators.

Jing Cao, Mun S Ho, and Rong Ma. 2020. “Analyzing carbon pricing policies using a general equilibrium model with production parameters estimated using firm data.” Energy Economics, 92, October, Pp. 104958. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Policy simulation results of Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) models largely hinge on the choices of substitution elasticities among key input factors. Currently, most CGE models rely on the common elasticities estimated from aggregated data, such as the GTAP model elasticity parameters. Using firm level data, we apply the control function method to estimate CES production functions with capital, labor and energy inputs and find significant heterogeneity in substitution elasticities across different industries. Our capital-labor substitution elasticities are much lower than the GTAP values while our energy elasticities are higher. We then incorporate these estimated elasticities into a CGE model to simulate China's carbon pricing policies and compare with the results using GTAP parameters. Our less elastic K-L substitution lead to lower base case GDP growth, but our more elastic energy substitution lead to lower coal use and carbon emissions. In the carbon tax policy exercises, we find that our elasticities lead to easier reductions in coal use and carbon emissions.

Jing Cao, Mun S. Ho, Wenhao Hu, and Dale Jorgenson. 2020. “Effective labor supply and growth outlook in China.” China Economic Review, 61, June, Pp. 101398. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The falling projections of working-age population in China has led to predictions of much slower economic growth. We consider three mechanisms that could contribute to higher effective labor supply growth – further improvement in educational attainment due to cohort replacement and rising college enrollment, improvement in aggregate labor quality due to urbanization, and higher labor force participation due to later retirement. We find that these factors result in a projected growth rate of effective labor input of 0.40% for 2015-2030 compared to -0.60% for working age population. As a result, the projected growth rate of GDP will be 5.80% for 2015-2030 compared to 5.23% if these factors are ignored.
Jing Cao, Mun S. Ho, Wenhao Hu, and Dale W. Jorgensen. 2020. “Estimating flexible consumption functions for urban and rural households in China.” China Economic Review, 61, June, Pp. 101453. Publisher's VersionAbstract

There are few comprehensive studies of household consumption in China due to data restrictions. This prevents the calculation of inequality indices based on consumption. Secondly, this makes a comprehensive analysis of policies that affect consumption difficult; economy-wide models used for analysis often have to employ simple consumption forms with unit income elasticities. We estimate a translog demand system distinguished by demographic characteristics, giving price and income elasticities that should be useful for policy analysis. We estimate separate functions for urban and rural households using household expenditure data and detailed commodity prices (1995-2006). This allows future analysis of social welfare and inequality based on consumption to supplement existing studies based on income. To illustrate an application of the model, we project consumption composition based on projected prices, incomes and demographic changes – aging, education improvement and urbanization.

Jing Cao, Mun S Ho, Wenhao Hu, and Dale W Jorgenson. 2020. “Urban household consumption in China: price, income and demographic effects.” Review of Development Economics, 152, 25 October, Pp. 810-833. Publisher's Version
2019
Jing Cao, Mun S. Ho, Dale W. Jorgenson, and Chris P. Nielsen. 2019. “China’s emissions trading system and an ETS-carbon tax hybrid.” Energy Economics, 81, June, Pp. 741-753. Publisher's VersionAbstract
China is introducing a national carbon emission trading system (ETS), with details yet to be finalized. The ETS is expected to cover only the major emitters but it is often argued that a more comprehensive system will achieve the emission goals at lower cost. We first examine an ETS that covers both electricity and cement sectors and consider an ambitious cap starting in 2017 that will meet the official objective to reduce the carbon-GDP intensity by 60-65% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. The two ETS-covered industries are compensated with an output-based subsidy to represent the intention to give free permits to the covered enterprises. We then consider a hybrid system where the non-ETS sectors pay a carbon tax and share in the CO2 reduction burden. Our simulations indicate that hybrid systems will achieve the same CO2 goals with lower permit prices and GDP losses. We also show how auctioning of the permits improves the efficiency of the ETS and the hybrid systems. Finally, we find that these CO2 control policies are progressive in that higher incomes households bear a bigger burden.
Appendix
Jing Cao, Mun S. Ho, Yating Li, Richard G. Newell, and William A. Pizer. 2019. “Chinese residential electricity consumption estimation and forecast using micro-data.” Resource and Energy Economics, 56, May, Pp. 6-27. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Based on econometric estimation using data from the Chinese Urban Household Survey, we develop a preferred forecast range of 85–143 percent growth in residential per capita electricity demand over 2009–2025. Our analysis suggests that per capita income growth drives a 43% increase, with the remainder due to an unexplained time trend. Roughly one-third of the income-driven demand comes from increases in the stock of specific major appliances, particularly AC units. The other two-thirds comes from non-specific sources of income-driven growth and is based on an estimated income elasticity that falls from 0.28 to 0.11 as income rises. While the stock of refrigerators is not projected to increase, we find that they contribute nearly 20 percent of household electricity demand. Alternative plausible time trend assumptions are responsible for the wide range of 85–143 percent. Meanwhile we estimate a price elasticity of demand of −0.7. These estimates point to carbon pricing and appliance efficiency policies that could substantially reduce demand.
Jing Cao, Mun S Ho, and Wenhao Hu. 2019. “Energy consumption of urban households in China.” China Economic Review, 58, 101343. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We estimate China urban household energy demand as part of a complete system of consumption demand so that it can be used in economy-wide models. This allows us to derive cross-price elasticities unlike studies which focus on one type of energy. We implement a two-stage approach and explicitly account for electricity, domestic fuels and transportation demand in the first stage and gasoline, coal, LPG and gas demand in the second stage. We find income inelastic demand for electricity and home energy, but the elasticity is higher than estimates in the rich countries. Demand for total transportation is income elastic. The price elasticity for electricity is estimated to be −0.5 and in the range of other estimates for China, and similar to long-run elasticities estimated for the U.S.
2018
Govinda R. Timilsina, Jing Cao, and Mun S. Ho. 2018. “Carbon tax for achieving China's NDC: Simulations of some design features using a CGE model.” Climate Change Economics, 9, 3. Publisher's VersionAbstract
China has set a goal of reducing its CO2 intensity of GDP by 60–65% from the 2005 level in 2030 as its nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Climate Change Agreement. While the government is considering series of market and nonmarket measures to achieve its target, this study assesses the economic consequences if the target were to meet through a market mechanism, carbon tax. We used a dynamic computable general equilibrium model of China for the analysis. The study shows that the level of carbon tax to achieve the NDC target would be different depending on its design features. An increasing carbon tax that starts at a small rate in 2015 and rises to a level to meet the NDC target in 2030 would cause smaller GDP loss than the carbon tax with a constant rate would do. The GDP loss due to the carbon tax would be smaller when the tax revenue is utilized to cut existing distortionary taxes than when it is transferred to households as a lump-sum rebate.
Xiaolin Guo, Mun Sing Ho, Liangzhi You, Jing Cao, Yu Fang, Taotao Tu, and Yang Hong. 2018. “Industrial water pollution discharge taxes in China: A multi-sector dynamic analysis.” Water, 10, 12, Pp. 1742. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We explore how water pollution policy reforms in China could reduce industrial wastewater pollution with minimum adverse impact on GDP growth. We use a multi-sector dynamic Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model, jointly developed by Harvard University and Tsinghua University, to examine the long-term impact of pollution taxes. A firm-level dataset of wastewater and COD discharge is compiled and aggregated to provide COD-intensities for 22 industrial sectors. We simulated the impact of 4 different sets of Pigovian taxes on the output of these industrial sectors, where the tax rate depends on the COD-output intensity. In the baseline low rate of COD tax, COD discharge is projected to rise from 36 million tons in 2018 to 48 million in 2030, while GDP grows at 6.9% per year. We find that raising the COD tax by 8 times will lower COD discharge by 1.6% by 2030, while a high 20-times tax will cut it by 4.0%. The most COD-intensive sectors—textile goods, apparel, and food products—have the biggest reduction in output and emissions. The additional tax revenue is recycled by cutting existing taxes, including taxes on profits, leading to higher investment. This shift from consumption to investment leads to a slightly higher GDP over time.
2017
Nan Zhong, Jing Cao, and Yuzhu Wang. 2017. “Traffic congestion, ambient air pollution and health: Evidence from driving restrictions in Beijing.” Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 4, 3, Pp. 821–856. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Vehicles have recently overtaken coal to become the largest source of air pollution in urban China. Research on mobile sources of pollution has foundered due both to inaccessibility of Chinese data on health outcomes and strong identifying assumptions. To address these, we collect daily ambulance call data from the Beijing Emergency Medical Center and combine them with an idiosyncratic feature of a driving restriction policy in Beijing that references the last digit of vehicles’ license plate numbers. Because the number 4 is considered unlucky by many in China, it tends to be avoided on license plates. As a result, days on which the policy restricts license plates ending in 4 unintentionally allow more vehicles in Beijing. Leveraging this variation, we find that traffic congestion is indeed 22% higher on days banning 4 and that 24-hour average concentration of NO2 is 12% higher. Correspondingly, these short term increases in pollution increase ambulance calls by 12% and 3% for fever and heart related symptoms, while no effects are found for injuries. These findings suggest that traffic congestion has substantial health externalities in China but that they are also responsive to policy. 

2016
Jing Cao, Mun S. Ho, and Huifang Liang. 2016. “Household energy demand in urban China: Accounting for regional prices and rapid economic change.” The Energy Journal, 37. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Understanding the rapidly rising demand for energy in China is essential to efforts to reduce the country's energy use and environmental damage. In response to rising incomes and changing prices and demographics, household use of various fuels, electricity and gasoline has changed dramatically in China. In this paper, we estimate both income and price elasticities for various energy types using Chinese urban household micro-data collected by National bureau of Statistics, by applying a two-stage budgeting AIDS model. We find that total energy is price and income inelastic for all income groups after accounting for demographic and regional effects. Our estimated electricity price elasticity ranges from - 0.49 to -0.57, gas price elasticity ranges from -0.46 to -0.94, and gasoline price elasticity ranges from -0.85 to -0.94. Income elasticity for various energy types range from 0.57 to 0.94. Demand for coal is most price and income elastic among the poor, whereas gasoline demand is elastic for the rich.

2013
Jing Cao, Mun S Ho, and Dale W Jorgenson. 2013. “The Economics of Environmental Policies in China.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 329-372. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A groundbreaking U.S.–Chinese inquiry into the effects of recent air pollution controls and prospective carbon taxes on China's economy and environment.

China's carbon dioxide emissions now outstrip those of other countries and its domestic air quality is severely degraded, especially in urban areas. Its sheer size and its growing, fossil-fuel-powered economy mean that China's economic and environmental policy choices will have an outsized effect on the global environmental future. Over the last decade, China has pursued policies that target both fossil fuel use and atmospheric emissions, but these efforts have been substantially overwhelmed by the country's increasing energy demands. With a billion citizens still living on less than $4,000 per year, China's energy and environmental policies must be reconciled with the goals of maintaining economic growth and raising living standards.

This book, a U.S.–Chinese collaboration of experts from Harvard and Tsinghua University, offers a groundbreaking integrated analysis of China's economy, emissions, air quality, public health, and agriculture. It first offers essential scientific context and accessible summaries of the book's policy findings; it then provides the underlying scientific and economic research. These studies suggest that China's recent sulfur controls achieved enormous environmental health benefits at unexpectedly low costs. They also indicate that judicious implementation of carbon taxes could reduce not only China's carbon emissions but also its air pollution more comprehensively than current single-pollutant policies, all at little cost to economic growth.

Chris P Nielsen, Mun S Ho, Jing Cao, Yu Lei, Yuxuan Wang, and Yu Zhao. 2013. “Summary: Carbon Taxes for 2013-2020.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 103-157. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A groundbreaking U.S.–Chinese inquiry into the effects of recent air pollution controls and prospective carbon taxes on China's economy and environment.

China's carbon dioxide emissions now outstrip those of other countries and its domestic air quality is severely degraded, especially in urban areas. Its sheer size and its growing, fossil-fuel-powered economy mean that China's economic and environmental policy choices will have an outsized effect on the global environmental future. Over the last decade, China has pursued policies that target both fossil fuel use and atmospheric emissions, but these efforts have been substantially overwhelmed by the country's increasing energy demands. With a billion citizens still living on less than $4,000 per year, China's energy and environmental policies must be reconciled with the goals of maintaining economic growth and raising living standards.

This book, a U.S.–Chinese collaboration of experts from Harvard and Tsinghua University, offers a groundbreaking integrated analysis of China's economy, emissions, air quality, public health, and agriculture. It first offers essential scientific context and accessible summaries of the book's policy findings; it then provides the underlying scientific and economic research. These studies suggest that China's recent sulfur controls achieved enormous environmental health benefits at unexpectedly low costs. They also indicate that judicious implementation of carbon taxes could reduce not only China's carbon emissions but also its air pollution more comprehensively than current single-pollutant policies, all at little cost to economic growth.

Chris P Nielsen, Mun S Ho, Yu Zhao, Yuxuan Wang, Yu Lei, and Jing Cao. 2013. “Summary: Sulfur Mandates and Carbon Taxes for 2006-2010.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 59-102. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A groundbreaking U.S.–Chinese inquiry into the effects of recent air pollution controls and prospective carbon taxes on China's economy and environment.

China's carbon dioxide emissions now outstrip those of other countries and its domestic air quality is severely degraded, especially in urban areas. Its sheer size and its growing, fossil-fuel-powered economy mean that China's economic and environmental policy choices will have an outsized effect on the global environmental future. Over the last decade, China has pursued policies that target both fossil fuel use and atmospheric emissions, but these efforts have been substantially overwhelmed by the country's increasing energy demands. With a billion citizens still living on less than $4,000 per year, China's energy and environmental policies must be reconciled with the goals of maintaining economic growth and raising living standards.

This book, a U.S.–Chinese collaboration of experts from Harvard and Tsinghua University, offers a groundbreaking integrated analysis of China's economy, emissions, air quality, public health, and agriculture. It first offers essential scientific context and accessible summaries of the book's policy findings; it then provides the underlying scientific and economic research. These studies suggest that China's recent sulfur controls achieved enormous environmental health benefits at unexpectedly low costs. They also indicate that judicious implementation of carbon taxes could reduce not only China's carbon emissions but also its air pollution more comprehensively than current single-pollutant policies, all at little cost to economic growth.

2012
Jing Cao, Mun S Ho, and Dale W Jorgenson. 2012. “An integrated assessment of the economic costs and environmental benefits of pollution and climate control.” In The Chinese Economy: A New Transition, edited by Masahiko Aoki. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Publisher's Version
2009
Jing Cao, Richard Garbaccio, and Mun S Ho. 2009. “China's 11th Five-Year Plan and the environment: Reducing SO2 emissions.” Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 3, 2, Pp. 189-208. Publisher's VersionAbstract
China's rapid economic growth has been accompanied by a high level of environmental degradation. One of the major sources of health and ecosystem damages is sulfur dioxide (SO2). Reducing SO2 emissions is a priority of China's environmental authorities, and the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006–2010) includes the target of reducing total SO2 emissions by 10 percent from the 2005 level. Given the rapid increase in SO2 emissions that is expected to occur in absence of intervention, attaining this target will require a significant effort. This article examines the two major policy measures the government is taking to achieve the SO2 target: a shutdown of many small, inefficient power plants and the installation of desulfurization equipment on existing and new coal-fired plants. We present results from a joint U.S.–China study that we participated in, which estimated the costs and benefits of these policies. We then estimate the economy-wide impacts of the two policies using a multisector model of the Chinese economy. We find that in the aggregate, the economic benefits of the shutdown of the small power plants are large enough to offset the costs of the desulfurization equipment, even without considering the substantial environmental benefits from the reduction of emissions of SO2 and other pollutants.

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