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Do Constitutions Matter? The Effects of Constitutional Environmental Rights Provisions on Environmental Outcomes

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Author Info

  • Christopher Jeffords

    (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)

  • Lanse Minkler

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

We use a novel data set within an instrumental variables framework to test whether the presence and legal strength of constitutional environmental rights are related to environmental outcomes. The outcome variables include Yale’s Environmental Performance Index and some of its components. The analysis accounts for the possibility that a country which takes steps to protect the environment might also be more likely to constitutionalize environmental rights. Controls include: (1) gross domestic product per capita (2) whether the country is a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; (3) rule of law; (4) population density; and (5) exogenous geographic effects. The inclusion of income means that our study is directly related to the Environmental Kuznets Curve literature. We find that constitutions do indeed matter for positive environmental outcomes, which suggests that we should not only pay attention to the incentives confronting polluters and resource users, but also to the incentives and constraints confronting those policymakers who initiate, monitor, and enforce environmental policies.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2014-16.

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Length: 12 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2014-16

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Keywords: Constitutional Law; Environment; Environmental Kuznets Curve; Environmental Rights;

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  1. Daron Acemoglu, 2005. "Constitutions, Politics and Economics: A Review Essay on Persson and Tabellini's "The Economic Effect of Constitutions"," NBER Working Papers 11235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2013. "How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 325-69, June.
  4. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
  5. Bhattarai, Madhusudan & Hammig, Michael, 2001. "Institutions and the Environmental Kuznets Curve for Deforestation: A Crosscountry Analysis for Latin America, Africa and Asia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 995-1010, June.
  6. Concetta Castiglione & Davide Infante & Janna Smirnova, 2011. "Rule of law and the Environmental Kuznets Curve: evidence for carbon emissions," Trinity Economics Papers tep0111, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  8. Kenneth L. Sokoloff & Stanley L. Engerman, 2000. "Institutions, Factor Endowments, and Paths of Development in the New World," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 217-232, Summer.
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