Monday, May 6, 2019 - 12:15pm to 2:00pm
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K262, Bowie-Vernon Room, CGIS Knafel, 1737 Cambridge St, Cambridge

The Social Cost of Automobiles and Environment Policies in Asia: A Comparative Study on China and Japan

Professor Harutoshi Matsutani, Fellow, Harvard Asia Center; Professor of Economics, Aichi University, Japan, will give a lecture as part of the Asia Center Fellows Seminar Series, co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies; Harvard-China Project on Energy, Economy and Environment; Harvard-Yenching Institute; and the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies.

Chair: Professor Ezra Vogel, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences, Emeritus


  • Professor Andrew Gordon, Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Professor of History, Harvard University; Acting Director, Harvard-Yenching Institute
  • Professor Michael B. McElroy, Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Chair, Harvard-China Project on Energy, Economy and Environment

Abstract: The purpose of this presentation is to analyze the interactive relations between automotive society and urban environment problems from the perspectives of environmental policy and historical comparison. In particular, this comparative study will focus on the differences between and similarities of the industrializations, urbanizations, and environment governance policies of China and Japan.

The automotive industry is currently undergoing significant changes, including some responses to the questions about its social costs, such as air pollutions, traffic congestions, and traffic accidents, etc. The immediate impact can be felt in large Asian cities such as those in China or India, where traffic congestion and air quality are so bad that their industrial potentials are being limited as a consequence.

Unlike the United States, Asian countries such as Japan and China have distinctive differences in their respective sequences of industrialization, urbanization, and development of automotive society. In these countries, the motorization appeared only after the formation of densely-populated large cities and the completion of urban functional layout and road network planning.  The motorization and industrialization increase the urban density of population and space, which aggravates a variety of environmental problems, such as PM2.5 and traffic congestions. 

This research will analyze the issues of social cost and negative externality and elaborate the necessity of environmental regulation for the traffic congestions and air pollutions caused by excessive use of cars. The fundamental approach for handling this dilemma in densely-populated large cities with heavy traffic should be to develop measures to reduce automotive traffic and develop public rail transit. This presentation is a part of an unpublished book written by the speaker.

Asia Center Fellows Seminar Series, co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies; Harvard-China Project on Energy, Economy and Environment; Harvard-Yenching Institute; and the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies.

Contact Name: 

Tiffany Chan

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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