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Is economic growth for the birds?

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  • Strong, Aaron
  • Tschirhart, John
  • Finnoff, David
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    Abstract

    The environment provides ecosystem services that support human wants. Economic growth is important for raising human living standards. But whether economic growth benefits the environment is unclear. Research into this relationship has focused on a U-shaped association known as the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC). As economies grow, environmental quality initially declines but ultimately recovers and improves. However, environmental quality has been narrowly defined in the research, largely neglecting the availability and range of ecosystem services. Because these services derive from biodiversity, we use avian biodiversity as a proxy for environmental quality. Our results replace the U-shaped relationship with a lazy-S relationship. As economies grow, environmental quality initially declines, then improves over intermediate growth, but ultimately declines at higher growth. The EKC hypothesis has been used to forward economic growth as a means for improving environment quality. Our results call into question policies that rely solely on economic growth for reversing environmental decline.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 70 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 7 (May)
    Pages: 1375-1380

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:7:p:1375-1380

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

    Related research

    Keywords: Kuznets curve Biodiversity Economic growth Breeding Bird Survey;

    References

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    1. Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 2004. "Trade, Growth, and the Environment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(1), pages 7-71, March.
    2. Stern, David I., 2004. "The Rise and Fall of the Environmental Kuznets Curve," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1419-1439, August.
    3. 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.
    4. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:17:y:2007:i:5:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS
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    7. Arrow, Kenneth & Bolin, Bert & Costanza, Robert & Dasgupta, Partha & Folke, Carl & Holling, C. S. & Jansson, Bengt-Owe & Levin, Simon & Maler, Karl-Goran & Perrings, Charles & Pimentel, David, 1995. "Economic growth, carrying capacity, and the environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 91-95, November.
    8. Costanza, Robert, 1995. "Economic growth, carrying capacity, and the environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 89-90, November.
    9. Richard T. Carson, 2010. "The Environmental Kuznets Curve: Seeking Empirical Regularity and Theoretical Structure," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 4(1), pages 3-23, Winter.
    10. Beckerman, Wilfred, 1992. "Economic growth and the environment: Whose growth? whose environment?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 481-496, April.
    11. Stengos, T. & Millimet, D.L. & List, J.A., 2002. "The Environmental Kuznets Curve: Real Progress or Misspecified Models?," Working Papers 2002-13, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.
    12. Barbier, Edward B., 1997. "Introduction to the environmental Kuznets curve special issue," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(04), pages 357-367, November.
    13. Sukkoo Kim, 2002. "The Reconstruction of the American Urban Landscape in the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 8857, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Fisher, Gordon & Gregory, Allan W., 1981. "An invariance property of generalized classical linear estimators," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 151-157.
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    Cited by:
    1. Strong, Aaron, 2013. "Measuring Environmental Quality: Ecosystem Services or Human Health Effects," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 38(3), December.

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