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