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The Middle-class Collapse and the Environment

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  • Verchere, Alban

Abstract

The thesis that unequal societies are harmful to the planet was defended by Boyce (1994) in a framework based on the unequal bargaining power between rich and poor. Our study reinvestigates this theory by removing any reference to power in order to study the conditions under which it can still occur. We show that a middle-class collapse can aggravate or alleviate the burden on the planet, depending on income disparities and weight of upward vs. downward mobility. Moreover, the paper shows how an appropriate Environmental policy can increase the political acceptability of a Social one designed for mitigating the deleterious effects of a middle-class collapse through the reduction of (ex-post) income disparities.

Suggested Citation

  • Verchere, Alban, 2017. "The Middle-class Collapse and the Environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 510-523.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:131:y:2017:i:c:p:510-523
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.08.026
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Middle-class collapse; Ecological impact; Social & environmental policies;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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