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The Impact of Power Equality, Income, and the Environment on Human Health: Some Inter-Country Comparisons


  • Mariano Torras


Economic studies on environmental degradation generally have a narrow focus on per capita income as an explanatory variable, and often fail to distinguish among the various types of environmental quality or damage. This paper addresses both problems by examining the effect of relative equality in the distribution of power on environmental outcomes, and making a clear distinction between health-related environmental outcomes and so-called 'environmental amenities,' only the latter of which should correlate strongly with income. This paper introduces a national index of power equality that is derived from related socioeconomic variables, and studies its effects on individual country achievement in addressing environmental quality and population health. This model is applied to a data set of 180 countries, as well as to subgroups of the entire country set. Employing disability-adjusted life expectancy and the population child mortality rate as two health proxies, this paper finds that power equality in most cases positively influences population health, and that power equality is in every case no worse and in some cases better than per capita income at explaining population health.

Suggested Citation

  • Mariano Torras, 2006. "The Impact of Power Equality, Income, and the Environment on Human Health: Some Inter-Country Comparisons," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(1), pages 1-20.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:20:y:2006:i:1:p:1-20
    DOI: 10.1080/02692170500362199

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. P Ekins, 1997. "The Kuznets Curve for the Environment and Economic Growth: Examining the Evidence," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 29(5), pages 805-830, May.
    2. Nganda, Benjamin M., 1996. "The role of markets in the worsening epidemiological environment," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(03), pages 371-375, July.
    3. Selden Thomas M. & Song Daqing, 1994. "Environmental Quality and Development: Is There a Kuznets Curve for Air Pollution Emissions?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 147-162, September.
    4. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650.
    5. Easterlin, Richard A, 1995. "Industrial Revolution and Mortality Revolution: Two of a Kind?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 393-408, December.
    6. Boyce, James K., 1994. "Inequality as a cause of environmental degradation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 169-178, December.
    7. Berta Rivera & Luis Currais, 1999. "Economic growth and health: direct impact or reverse causation?," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(11), pages 761-764.
    8. Easterlin, Richard A., 1999. "How beneficent is the market? A look at the modern history of mortality," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(03), pages 257-294, December.
    9. J. Martinez-Alier, 1993. "Distributional Obstacles to International Environmental Policy: The Failures at Rio and Prospects after Rio," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 2(2), pages 97-114, May.
    10. Magnani, Elisabetta, 2000. "The Environmental Kuznets Curve, environmental protection policy and income distribution," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 431-443, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marina Vornovytskyy & James Boyce, 2010. "Economic Inequality and Environmental Quality: Evidence of Pollution Shifting in Russia," Working Papers wp217, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


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