China has launched lots of environmental policies to address the serious air pollution. The effectiveness of such kinds of policies are still in debate. Whether the policy makes a difference or not, this article argues that it highly depends on policy targets recognition. To take the motor vehicle restriction policy as an example, the target of the policy may not only focus on developing the air condition, but also other objectives. This on-hand article conducts a regression discontinuity design to test two goals of Zhengzhou city’s motor vehicle restrictions policy which are efficiency target (“help to complete the political assessment goal”) and legitimacy target (“help to achieve pollution control goal”). This article measures the former goal based on daily data and the latter one based on monthly data, both from Jan. 2016 to Dec. 2018. Air quality is selected by monthly air monitoring station, economic activities data is sorted from the official statistic website, and government action data is collected from the government documents by hand which we follow seriously and scientifically coding rules. Other factors, like climate influences, consumption and production behavior, are also controlled in the experiment. Regression results show that the restriction policy doesn’t make an obvious difference on developing the air quality before and after, but it does have statistically significant effect on helping the urban government to achieve the political assessment goal of the so-called “Qualified days”. The experiment also adjusts the bandwidth of the policy timing. The results obtained were highly robust across a variety of tests. What’s more, to make explanations on the restriction policy failure, this article collects the vehicle selling data and gasoline consumption data during the same period to test the policy spillover effect on consumer behavior. Results show that the driving restriction policy lead to an obvious otherwise slight increase on consumers’ behavior of buying a second car or using the alternative car. This study contributes to empirical evidence and add to a new case of researches on the air pollutants governance and policy evaluation.
Keywords Policy Analysis, Motor Vehicle restriction policy, Regression discontinuity design