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Do economic conditions influence environmental policy? Evidence from the US Senate


  • Jacobsen, Grant D.


This paper investigates whether economic conditions influence environmental policy by examining how policymakers voting on environmental legislation respond to changes in their state’s unemployment rate. The outcome of interest is a US Senator’s League of Conservation Voters score, which reflects how often a senator voted for the environmentally-favorable outcome on bills related to the environment in a given year. I find evidence that a higher unemployment rate is associated with reduced support for environmentally-favorable policies and that the estimated response is largest for Republicans. Counterfactual estimates indicate that if each state had experienced its lowest observed unemployment rate throughout the sample, then the proportion of votes taking the environmentally-favorable outcome would have increased from 36% to 41%.

Suggested Citation

  • Jacobsen, Grant D., 2013. "Do economic conditions influence environmental policy? Evidence from the US Senate," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(2), pages 167-170.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:120:y:2013:i:2:p:167-170 DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2013.04.028

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert T. Deacon & Catherine S. Norman, 2006. "Does the Environmental Kuznets Curve Describe How Individual Countries Behave?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 82(2), pages 291-315.
    2. 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.
    3. Meyer, Bruce D, 1995. "Natural and Quasi-experiments in Economics," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 151-161, April.
    4. Kijima, Masaaki & Nishide, Katsumasa & Ohyama, Atsuyuki, 2010. "Economic models for the environmental Kuznets curve: A survey," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1187-1201, July.
    5. repec:cup:apsrev:v:93:y:1999:i:01:p:33-50_21 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Matthew E. Kahn & Matthew J. Kotchen, 2010. "Environmental Concern and the Business Cycle: The Chilling Effect of Recession," NBER Working Papers 16241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Schumacher, Ingmar, 2014. "An Empirical Study of the Determinants of Green Party Voting," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 306-318.
    2. van den Bijgaart, Inge, 2016. "Essays in environmental economics and policy," Other publications TiSEM 298bee2a-cb08-4173-9fe1-8, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    3. Conte, Marc N. & Jacobsen, Grant D., 2016. "Explaining Demand for Green Electricity Using Data from All U.S. Utilities," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 122-130.
    4. Anderson, Brilé & Bernauer, Thomas, 2016. "How much carbon offsetting and where? Implications of efficiency, effectiveness, and ethicality considerations for public opinion formation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 387-395.

    More about this item


    Environmental policy; Unemployment rate; LCV scores; Congressional voting;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • O44 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Environment and Growth
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy


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