Paying for clean air

26 Jan 2016. NUS scientists are conducting surveys around Singapore to estimate how much people would be willing to pay for clean air.

The research augments previous estimates of the economic impact of haze on Singapore (e.g., Quah & Boon 2003). These previous estimates incorporate impacts that are easily measurable from economic data but omit some impacts on the man on the street. A team led by Prof Ryan CHISHOLM from the Department of Biological Sciences in NUS is currently conducting surveys which will help plug this gap. The research is underway and results are expected in mid-2016.

The research is important because policymakers need to know the impacts of the haze on Singaporeans. How much should Singapore spend on haze mitigation? What fines should be levied on companies responsible for haze? Sensible answers to these questions depend on accurate estimates of impacts. The research also helps form part of a global picture of the impacts of Indonesian forest fires (Heil & Goldammer 2001).

The next steps are to finish the surveys, collate the data, and then come up with a total estimate of how much Singaporeans are willing to pay for clean air. This number is then a proxy for the impacts of haze on Singaporeans. We will compare this number to past estimates of the impacts of haze based on different methods (e.g., Quah & Boon 2003) and to other economic data, including the fines that Singapore levies on companies causing haze.

ryan feb2016

Honours student LIN Yuan conducting surveys on Singaporeans’ willingness to pay for haze mitigation [Image credit: Lin Yuan].



1. E Quah, TL Boon. “The economic cost of particulate air pollution on health in Singapore.” Journal of Asian Economics (2003) 14:73.

2. A Heil, JG Goldammer. “Smoke-haze pollution: a review of the 1997 episode in Southeast Asia.” Regional Environmental Change (2001) 2:24.