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Environmental policies and productivity growth: a critical review of empirical findings

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  • Tomasz Kozluk
  • Vera Zipperer

Abstract

The economic effects of environmental policies are of central interest to policymakers. The traditional approach sees environmental policies as a burden on economic activity, at least in the short to medium term, as they raise costs without increasing output and restrict the set of production technologies and outputs. At the same time, the Porter Hypothesis claims that well-designed environmental policies can provide a “free lunch” – encouraging innovation, bringing about gains in profitability and productivity that can outweigh the costs of the policy. This paper reviews the empirical evidence on the link between environmental policy stringency and productivity growth, and the various channels through which such effects can take place. The results are ambiguous, in particular as many of the studies are fragile and context-specific, impeding the generalisation of conclusions. Practical problems related to data, measurement and estimation strategies are discussed, leading to suggestions as to how they can be addressed in future research. These include: improving the measurement of environmental policy stringency; investigating effects of different types of instruments and details of instrument design; exploiting cross-country variation; and the complementary use of different levels of aggregation.

Suggested Citation

  • Tomasz Kozluk & Vera Zipperer, 2014. "Environmental policies and productivity growth: a critical review of empirical findings," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2014(1), pages 155-185.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecokac:5jz2drqml75j
    DOI: 10.1787/eco_studies-2014-5jz2drqml75j
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    Keywords

    Environmental policy; Porter Hypothesis; Productivity; Innovation;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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