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Democracy, inequality and the environment when citizens can mitigate health consequences of pollution privately or act collectively

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  • Bernard, Sophie
  • Hotte, Louis
  • Winer, Stanley L.

Abstract

We study the political economy of the environment in autocratic, weak and strong democracies when individuals can mitigate the health consequences of domestic pollution privately as well as control pollution collectively through public policies. We consider a small open economy with comparative advantage in dirty goods. With costly private mitigation, income inequality leads to an unequal distribution of the burdens of pollution (in accordance with the evidence). We show that the eco-friendliness ranking of political regime types varies with the cost of private mitigation and that increased inequality has non-monotonous effects on equilibrium pollution levels. In weak democracies, the political equilibrium may be characterized by low environmental standards but highly restricted trade, thus leading to ambiguous outcomes regarding pollution levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Bernard, Sophie & Hotte, Louis & Winer, Stanley L., 2014. "Democracy, inequality and the environment when citizens can mitigate health consequences of pollution privately or act collectively," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 142-156.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:34:y:2014:i:c:p:142-156
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2014.01.006
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    Cited by:

    1. Sun, Cong & Kahn, Matthew E. & Zheng, Siqi, 2017. "Self-protection investment exacerbates air pollution exposure inequality in urban China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 468-474.
    2. Danny García Callejas, 2015. "Voting for the environment: the importance of Democracy and education in Latin America," REVISTA DE ECONOMÍA DEL CARIBE 014782, UNIVERSIDAD DEL NORTE.
    3. repec:spr:jenvss:v:8:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s13412-017-0444-7 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Domestic pollution; Environmental regulation; Private mitigation; Trade; Income inequality; Strong and weak democracy;

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment
    • 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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