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Context matters: the significance of non-economic conditions for income–pollution relationships in Chile and Peru


  • José Orihuela



The Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) states that societies reverse air pollution once an income threshold is reached, which many scholars seem to read as a universal law. Proponents of the EKC have not explored empirically the conditions and mechanisms underpinning such an expected income–pollution relationship. With a comparative analytical study of the evolution of air pollution in the middle-income countries of Chile and Peru, this paper shows that the way economic development affects environmental quality is conditioned by interplaying ecological, cognitive, and political conditions. The evidence supports the view that income–environment relationships, in general, and air quality turning points, in particular, are influenced by highly idiosyncratic human-ecology context. Thus, income–pollution functional forms should be expected to vary, and to mutate, across time and space. Copyright AESS 2013

Suggested Citation

  • José Orihuela, 2013. "Context matters: the significance of non-economic conditions for income–pollution relationships in Chile and Peru," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 3(4), pages 391-403, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jenvss:v:3:y:2013:i:4:p:391-403
    DOI: 10.1007/s13412-013-0141-0

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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. Grossman, G.M & Krueger, A.B., 1991. "Environmental Impacts of a North American Free Trade Agreement," Papers 158, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
    3. Susmita Dasgupta & Benoit Laplante & Hua Wang & David Wheeler, 2002. "Confronting the Environmental Kuznets Curve," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 147-168, Winter.
    4. Caviglia-Harris, Jill L. & Chambers, Dustin & Kahn, James R., 2009. "Taking the "U" out of Kuznets: A comprehensive analysis of the EKC and environmental degradation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 1149-1159, February.
    5. Felipe Portocarrero & Cynthia Sanborn & James Loveday & Oswaldo Molina, 2007. "De la protesta a la propuesta: la Asociación Civil Labor," Chapters of Books,in: Felipe Portocarrero & Cynthia Sanborn & Luis Antonio Camacho (ed.), Moviendo montañas: empresas, comunidades y ONG en las industrias extractivas, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 121-193 Fondo Editorial, Universidad del Pacífico.
    6. Kuznets, Simon, 1973. "Modern Economic Growth: Findings and Reflections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 247-258, June.
    7. Torras, Mariano & Boyce, James K., 1998. "Income, inequality, and pollution: a reassessment of the environmental Kuznets Curve," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 147-160, May.
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