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Is the environmental Kuznets curve an empirical regularity?

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  • Deacon, Robert
  • Norman, Catherine S

Abstract

The empirical literature on the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) purports to describe how a nation’s environmental quality will evolve if it makes the transition from poverty to wealth. The popular generalization is that pollution will first increase and then, if income becomes sufficiently high, decline. Empirical support for this proposition is based primarily on cross-country variations in income and pollution rather than evidence on the behavior of individual countries over time. We examine a recently available data set on SO2, smoke, and particulate air pollution to look for examples of countries following the EKC process. For most pollutants the income-pollution pattern does not differ from what would be expected to occur by chance. According to the EKC hypothesis, the driving force in the worldwide decline in air pollution is growth in income. To check the plausibility of this explanation, we estimate country-specific income elasticities for clean air that are implied by the EKC framework. We find them to be implausibly large relative to other estimates in the literature. We suggest an alternative hypothesis, that public support for environmental protection increased dramatically around 1970, sparking increased efforts to improve environmental quality. Cleanup was faster in rich countries than in poor, however. The record of within-country air pollution trends is broadly consistent with this story.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara in its series University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt2m44f7kr.

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Date of creation: 13 Jul 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt2m44f7kr

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Keywords: environmental; Kuznets; curve; empirical; regularity;

References

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  1. Coondoo, Dipankor & Dinda, Soumyananda, 2002. "Causality between income and emission: a country group-specific econometric analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 351-367, March.
  2. Flores, Nicholas E. & Carson, Richard T., 1995. "The Relationship Between the Income Elasticities of Demand and Willingness to Pay," 1995 Conference (39th), February 14-16, 1995, Perth, Australia 148795, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
  3. CARSON, RICHARd T. & JEON, YONGIL & McCUBBIN, DONALD R., 1997. "The relationship between air pollution emissions and income: US Data," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(04), pages 433-450, November.
  4. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Selden, Thomas M., 1995. "Stoking the fires? CO2 emissions and economic growth," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 85-101, May.
  5. Werner Antweiler & Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 1998. "Is Free Trade Good for the Environment?," NBER Working Papers 6707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Stern , David I., 1998. "Progress on the environmental Kuznets curve?," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 173-196, May.
  7. Stern, David I. & Common, Michael S. & Barbier, Edward B., 1996. "Economic growth and environmental degradation: The environmental Kuznets curve and sustainable development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(7), pages 1151-1160, July.
  8. Shafik, Nemat & Bandyopadhyay, Sushenjit, 1992. "Economic growth and environmental quality : time series and cross-country evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 904, The World Bank.
  9. Panayotou, Theodore, 1997. "Demystifying the environmental Kuznets curve: turning a black box into a policy tool," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(04), pages 465-484, November.
  10. Selden Thomas M. & Song Daqing, 1994. "Environmental Quality and Development: Is There a Kuznets Curve for Air Pollution Emissions?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 147-162, September.
  11. Bengt Kristrom & Pere Riera, 1996. "Is the income elasticity of environmental improvements less than one?," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 7(1), pages 45-55, January.
  12. Harrison, David Jr. & Rubinfeld, Daniel L., 1978. "Hedonic housing prices and the demand for clean air," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 81-102, March.
  13. Hilton, F. G. Hank & Levinson, Arik, 1998. "Factoring the Environmental Kuznets Curve: Evidence from Automotive Lead Emissions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 126-141, March.
  14. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Lopez, Ramon E. & Galinato, Gregmar I. & Islam, Asif M., 2009. "Pollution and the State: The Role of the Structure of Government," 2009 Conference (53rd), February 11-13, 2009, Cairns, Australia 48055, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
  2. Terciane Sabadini Carvalho & Eduardo Almeida, 2008. "A hipótese da Curva de Kuznets Ambiental Global: uma perspectiva econométrico-espacial," Anais do XXXVI Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 36th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 200807021032430, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  3. Ciriaci, Daria & Palma, Daniela, 2010. "Geography, environmental efficiency and Italian economic growth: a spatially-adapted Environmental Kuznets Curve," MPRA Paper 22899, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Islam, Asif M. & López, Ramón E., 2013. "Government Spending and Air Pollution in the US," Working Papers 144406, University of Maryland, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  5. McAusland, Carol, 2003. "Trade, Politics,and the Environment: Tailpipe vs. Smokestack," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0406x646, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  6. Markusen, James R., 2012. "Per-Capita Income as a Determinant of International Trade and Environmental Policies," Discussion Papers 2013-06, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
  7. Burnett, J. Wesley, 2009. "Economic Growth and Environmental Degradation," 2009 Annual Meeting, January 31-February 3, 2009, Atlanta, Georgia 46838, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
  8. Kuheli Dutt, 2009. "Governance, institutions and the environment-income relationship: a cross-country study," Environment, Development and Sustainability, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 705-723, August.
  9. Terciane Sabadini Carvalho & Eduardo Almeida, 2011. "The Globalenvironmental Kuznets Curve And The Kyoto Protocol," Anais do XXXVII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 37th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 183, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  10. James R. Markusen, 2014. "Per-Capital Income as a Determinant of International Trade and Environment Policies," CESifo Working Paper Series 4618, CESifo Group Munich.

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