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Pollution abatement expenditures and plant-level productivity: A production function approach

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  • Shadbegian, Ronald J.
  • Gray, Wayne B.

Abstract

In this paper we investigate the impact of environmental regulation on productivity using a Cobb-Douglas production function framework. Estimating the effects of regulation on productivity can be done with a top-down approach using data for broad sectors of the economy, or a more disaggregated bottom-up approach. Our study follows a bottom-up approach using data from the U.S. paper, steel, and oil industries. We measure environmental regulation using plant-level information on pollution abatement expenditures, which allows us to distinguish between productive and abatement expenditures on each input. We use annual Census Bureau information (1979-1990) on output, labor, capital, and material inputs, and pollution abatement operating costs and capital expenditures for 68 pulp and paper mills, 55 oil refineries, and 27 steel mills. We find that pollution abatement inputs generally contribute little or nothing to output, especially when compared to their ‘productive’ equivalents. Adding an aggregate pollution abatement cost measure to a Cobb-Douglas production function, we find that a $1 increase in pollution abatement costs leads to an estimated productivity decline of $3.11, $1.80, and $5.98 in the paper, oil, and steel industries respectively. These findings imply substantial differences across industries in their sensitivity to pollution abatement costs, arguing for a bottom-up approach that can capture these differences. Further differentiating plants by their production technology, we find substantial differences in the impact of pollution abatement costs even within industries, with higher marginal costs at plants with more polluting technologies. Finally, in all three industries, plants concentrating on change-in-production-process abatement techniques have higher productivity than plants doing predominantly end-of-line abatement, but also seem to be more affected by pollution abatement operating costs. Overall, our results point to the importance using deta

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 54 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2-3 (August)
Pages: 196-208

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:54:y:2005:i:2-3:p:196-208

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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  1. Michael Greenstone, 2002. "The Impacts of Environmental Regulations on Industrial Activity: Evidence from the 1970 and 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments and the Census of Manufactures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1175-1219, December.
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  21. Viscusi, W Kip, 1983. "Frameworks for Analyzing the Effects of Risk and Environmental Regulations on Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 793-801, September.
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