Pollution and life expectancy: How environmental policy can promote growth
This article investigates the influence of environmental policy (EP) on growth in an AK-type growth model, when finite lifetime is introduced and the link between pollution and life expectancy (through the detrimental impact of pollution on health) is taken into account. Using an overlapping generations model à la Blanchard [Blanchard, O. (1985). Debt, deficits and finite horizon. Journal of Political Economy, 93:223-247], we demonstrate that finite lifetime introduces a "generational turnover effect" which modifies the influence of the EP on growth. Thus, when lifetime is finite and independent from pollution, we show that the "generational turnover effect" limits the detrimental impact of the EP on growth, if agents smooth their consumption over time. When pollution negatively influences life expectancy through health, we demonstrate that the "generational turnover effect" is magnified and that the EP and growth have an inverted U-shaped relationship in the steady-state. In this case, we show that the environmental policy is more likely to promote growth (i.e. it stimulates growth for a wider range of environmental taxes) when the impact of pollution on health is important and/or public expenditures in health are low. Finally, using numerical simulations, we find that for the value of parameters that we have chosen, the EP will be more likely to promote growth when agents smooth consumption over time.
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