IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The environmental Kuznets curve in a world of irreversibility

  • Fabien Prieur


We develop an overlapping generations model where consumption is the source of polluting emissions. Pollution stock accumulates with emissions but is partially assimilated by nature at each period. The assimilation capacity of nature is limited and vanishes beyond a critical level of pollution. We first show that multiple equilibria exist. More importantly, some exhibit irreversible pollution levels although an abatement activity is operative. Thus, the simple engagement of maintenance does not necessarily suffice to protect an economy against convergence toward a steady state having the properties of an ecological and economic poverty trap. In contrast with earlier related studies, the emergence of the environmental Kuznets curve is no longer the rule. Instead, we detect a sort of degenerated Environmental Kuznets Curve that corresponds to the equilibrium trajectory leading to the irreversible solution.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Springer in its journal Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 40 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 57-90

in new window

Handle: RePEc:spr:joecth:v:40:y:2009:i:1:p:57-90
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Stern, David I., 2004. "The Rise and Fall of the Environmental Kuznets Curve," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1419-1439, August.
  2. Smulders, J.A. & Gradus, R.H.J.M., 1993. "The trade-off between environmental care and long-term growth : Pollution in three proto-type growth models," Other publications TiSEM f3ec6de7-f996-4ac0-b872-0, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  3. Brock, William A. & Taylor, M. Scott, 2005. "Economic Growth and the Environment: A Review of Theory and Empirics," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 28, pages 1749-1821 Elsevier.
  4. Toman, Michael A. & Withagen, Cees, 2000. "Accumulative pollution, "clean technology," and policy design," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 367-384, October.
  5. 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.
  6. Frederick Ploeg & Cees Withagen, 1991. "Pollution control and the Ramsey problem," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 1(2), pages 215-236, June.
  7. Selden Thomas M. & Song Daqing, 1995. "Neoclassical Growth, the J Curve for Abatement, and the Inverted U Curve for Pollution," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 162-168, September.
  8. Keller, Klaus & Bolker, Benjamin M. & Bradford, D.F.David F., 2004. "Uncertain climate thresholds and optimal economic growth," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 723-741, July.
  9. Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 2003. "Trade, Growth and the Environment," NBER Working Papers 9823, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Keeler, Emmett & Spence, Michael & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1972. "The optimal control of pollution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 19-34, February.
  11. Tetsuo Ono, 2003. "Environmental tax policy in a model of growth cycles," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 141-168, 08.
  12. Andreoni, James & Levinson, Arik, 2001. "The simple analytics of the environmental Kuznets curve," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 269-286, May.
  13. Paul A. Samuelson, 1958. "An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Social Contrivance of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 467.
  14. John, A. & Pecchenino, R. & Schimmelpfennig, D. & Schreft, S., 1995. "Short-lived agents and the long-lived environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 127-141, September.
  15. 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.
  16. Michel, Philippe & de la Croix, David, 2000. "Myopic and perfect foresight in the OLG model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 53-60, April.
  17. Larry E. Jones & Rodolfo E. Manuelli, 2001. "Endogenous Policy Choice: The Case of Pollution and Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(2), pages 369-405, July.
  18. Perman, Roger & Stern, David I., 2003. "Evidence from panel unit root and cointegration tests that the Environmental Kuznets Curve does not exist," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 47(3), September.
  19. Dinda, Soumyananda, 2004. "Environmental Kuznets Curve Hypothesis: A Survey," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 431-455, August.
  20. Comolli, Paul M., 1977. "Pollution control in a simplified general-equilibrium model with production externalities," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 289-304, December.
  21. Xepapadeas, Anastasios, 1997. "Economic development and environmental pollution: traps and growth," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 327-350, August.
  22. Partha Dasgupta & Karl-Göran Mäler, 2003. "The Economics of Non-Convex Ecosystems: Introduction," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 26(4), pages 499-525, December.
  23. Tahvonen, Olli & Salo, Seppo, 1996. "Nonconvexities in Optimal Pollution Accumulation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 160-177, September.
  24. Costas Azariadis & Allan Drazen, 1990. "Threshold Externalities in Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 501-526.
  25. Stokey, Nancy L, 1998. "Are There Limits to Growth?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(1), pages 1-31, February.
  26. John, A & Pecchenino, R, 1994. "An Overlapping Generations Model of Growth and the Environment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(427), pages 1393-1410, November.
  27. de la Croix,David & Michel,Philippe, 2002. "A Theory of Economic Growth," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521806428.
  28. Stern , David I., 1998. "Progress on the environmental Kuznets curve?," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 173-196, May.
  29. Suri, Vivek & Chapman, Duane, 1998. "Economic growth, trade and energy: implications for the environmental Kuznets curve," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 195-208, May.
  30. CARSON, RICHARd T. & JEON, YONGIL & McCUBBIN, DONALD R., 1997. "The relationship between air pollution emissions and income: US Data," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(04), pages 433-450, November.
  31. Galor, Oded & Ryder, Harl E., 1989. "Existence, uniqueness, and stability of equilibrium in an overlapping-generations model with productive capital," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 360-375, December.
  32. Forster, Bruce A., 1975. "Optimal pollution control with a nonconstant exponential rate of decay," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-6, September.
  33. Tahvonen, Olli & Withagen, Cees, 1996. "Optimality of irreversible pollution accumulation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(9-10), pages 1775-1795.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:joecth:v:40:y:2009:i:1:p:57-90. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)

or (Christopher F Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.