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Economic prosperity, biodiversity conservation, and the environmental Kuznets curve

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  • Mills, Julianne H.
  • Waite, Thomas A.
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    Abstract

    Many conservationists contend that economic growth and biodiversity conservation are incompatible goals. Some economists contest this viewpoint, arguing that wealthier countries have the luxury of investing more heavily in efforts to conserve biodiversity. Under this assumption, we expect a U-shaped relationship between per capita wealth and proportion of species conserved. We test this environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) using estimates of per capita income and deforestation rates (index of biodiversity threat) for 35 tropical countries. A prior analysis [Dietz, S., Adger, W.N., 2003. Economic growth, biodiversity loss and conservation effort. Journal of Environmental Management, 68:23-35] using conventional regression techniques failed to provide any support for the parabolic relationship predicted by the EKC hypothesis. Here, we introduce the use of quantile regression and spatial filtering to reanalyze this data, addressing issues of heteroskedasticity and spatial autocorrelation. We note that preliminary analysis using these methods provides some initial evidence for an EKC. However, a series of panel analyses with country-specific dummy variables eliminated or even reversed much of this support. A closer examination of conservation practices and environmental indicators within the countries, particularly those countries that drove our initial support, suggests that wealth is not a reliable indicator of improved conservation practice. Our findings indicate that an EKC for biodiversity is overly simplistic and further exploration is required to fully understand the mechanisms by which income affects biodiversity.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 68 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 7 (May)
    Pages: 2087-2095

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2009:i:7:p:2087-2095

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

    Related research

    Keywords: Biodiversity conservation Economic growth Environmental Kuznets curve Quantile regression Consumption Spatial filtering;

    References

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    1. Rothman, Dale S., 1998. "Environmental Kuznets curves--real progress or passing the buck?: A case for consumption-based approaches," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 177-194, May.
    2. David I. Stern, 2003. "The Rise and Fall of the Environmental Kuznets Curve," Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics 0302, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics.
    3. Grossman, Gene M & Krueger, Alan B, 1995. "Economic Growth and the Environment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(2), pages 353-77, May.
    4. Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez & Edward M. Crenshaw & J. Craig Jenkins, 2002. "Deforestation and the Environmental Kuznets Curve: A Cross-National Investigation of Intervening Mechanisms," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 83(1), pages 226-243.
    5. Gene M. Grossman & Alan B. Krueger, 1991. "Environmental Impacts of a North American Free Trade Agreement," NBER Working Papers 3914, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Koenker,Roger, 2005. "Quantile Regression," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521608275, April.
    7. Beckerman, Wilfred, 1992. "Economic growth and the environment: Whose growth? whose environment?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 481-496, April.
    8. McPherson, Michael A. & Nieswiadomy, Michael L., 2005. "Environmental Kuznets curve: threatened species and spatial effects," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 395-407, November.
    9. Robin Naidoo, 2004. "Economic Growth and Liquidation of Natural Capital: The Case of Forest Clearance," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 80(2), pages 194-208.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Charles Palmer & Salvatore Di Falco, 2012. "Biodiversity, poverty, and development," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(1), pages 48-68, Spring.
    2. Ariane Manuela AMIN, 2012. "What Drives Biodiversity Conservation Effort in the Developing World? An analysis for Sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers halshs-00722081, HAL.
    3. Mills Busa, Julianne H., 2013. "Dynamite in the EKC tunnel? Inconsistencies in resource stock analysis under the environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 116-126.
    4. Song, Ma-Lin & Zhang, Wei & Wang, Shu-Hong, 2013. "Inflection point of environmental Kuznets curve in Mainland China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 14-20.
    5. Zsofia Benedek & Imre Ferto, 2013. "Development and application of a new Forestation Index: global forestation patterns and drivers," IEHAS Discussion Papers 1326, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
    6. Ariane Manuela AMIN & Johanna Choumert, 2013. "Development and biodiversity conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa: A spatial analysis," Working Papers halshs-00799175, HAL.
    7. Charles Perrings & George Halkos, 2012. "Who Cares about Biodiversity? Optimal Conservation and Transboundary Biodiversity Externalities," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 52(4), pages 585-608, August.
    8. Gren, Ing-Marie & Campos, Monica & Gustafsson, Lena & Elofsson, Katarina, 2013. "Species Imperilment on the Global Scale: Empirical evidences of economic causes," Working Paper Series 2013:7, Department Economics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

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