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Is Free Trade Good for the Environment?

Author

Listed:
  • Werner Antweiler
  • Brian R. Copeland
  • M. Scott Taylor

Abstract

This paper investigates how openness to international goods markets affects pollution concentrations. We develop a theoretical model to divide trade's impact on pollution into scale, technique, and composition effects and then examine this theory using data on sulfur dioxide concentrations. We find international trade creates relatively small changes in pollution concentrations when it alters the composition of national output. Estimates of the trade-induced technique and scale effects imply a net reduction in pollution from these sources. Combining our estimates of all three effects yields a somewhat surprising conclusion: freer trade appears to be good for the environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Werner Antweiler & Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 2001. "Is Free Trade Good for the Environment?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 877-908, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:91:y:2001:i:4:p:877-908
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.91.4.877
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. McGuire, Martin C., 1982. "Regulation, factor rewards, and international trade," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 335-354, April.
    2. Werner Antweiler & Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 2001. "Is Free Trade Good for the Environment?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 877-908, September.
    3. Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 1994. "North-South Trade and the Environment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 755-787.
    4. Lewis R. Gale & Jose A. Mendez, "undated". "A Note on the Empirical Relationship Between Trade, Growth and the Environment," Working Papers 96/3, Arizona State University, Department of Economics.
    5. Moulton, Brent R, 1987. "Diagnostics for Group Effects in Regression Analysis," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 5(2), pages 275-282, April.
    6. Pethig, Rudiger, 1976. "Pollution, welfare, and environmental policy in the theory of Comparative Advantage," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 160-169, February.
    7. Revesz, Richard L. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Environmental Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
    8. 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.
    9. Shafik, Nemat, 1994. "Economic Development and Environmental Quality: An Econometric Analysis," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(0), pages 757-773, Supplemen.
    10. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "The Impact of Air Pollution on Infant Mortality: Evidence from Geographic Variation in Pollution Shocks Induced by a Recession," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1121-1167.
    11. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
    12. Gene M. Grossman & Alan B. Krueger, 1995. "Economic Growth and the Environment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(2), pages 353-377.
    13. Tobey, James A, 1990. "The Effects of Domestic Environmental Policies on Patterns of World Trade: An Empirical Test," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 191-209.
    14. 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.
    15. Adam B. Jaffe et al., 1995. "Environmental Regulation and the Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturing: What Does the Evidence Tell Us?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 132-163, March.
    16. Gale, Lewis R. & Mendez, Jose A., 1998. "The empirical relationship between trade, growth and the environment," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 53-61.
    17. Copeland, Brian R & Taylor, M Scott, 1995. "Trade and Transboundary Pollution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 716-737, September.
    18. J. P. Neary (ed.), 1995. "International Trade," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, volume 0, number 575, April.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment
    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water

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