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Legal origin and the evolution of environmental quality


  • Lewis S. Davis

    () (Union College)

  • Emily Lacroix

    () (Union College Minerva Fellow)


We extend the empirical literature on the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) by showing the legal origin matters for the evolution of environmental quality. Using observations of ambient sulfur dioxide levels, we find that the EKC for French and British legal origin countries diverge as incomes rise, with the EKC for French legal origin countries lying significantly below that for countries of British legal origin. This finding is robust to the inclusion of proxies for democracy and corruption, the institutional variables emphasized in the current EKC literature. Our results are consistent with the idea that the British common law tradition places a greater emphasis on private relative to collective property rights.

Suggested Citation

  • Lewis S. Davis & Emily Lacroix, 2011. "Legal origin and the evolution of environmental quality," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 31(4), pages 2968-2974.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebl:ecbull:eb-11-00597

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    Cited by:

    1. Stern, David I., 2012. "Modeling international trends in energy efficiency," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 2200-2208.

    More about this item


    Environmental quality; institutions; legal origin. economic development; evironmental Kuznets curve;

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics


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