IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Environmental Regulation and Development: A Cross-country Empirical Analysis

Listed author(s):
  • Susmita Dasgupta
  • Ashoka Mody
  • Subhendu Roy
  • David Wheeler

This paper develops comparative indices of environmental policy and performance for 31 countries, using a quantified analysis of reports prepared for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). In cross-country regressions, we find a very strong, positive association between our indicators and the level of economic development, particularly when the latter is adjusted for purchasing power parity. Our results suggest a characteristic progression in the development process, from protection of natural resources to regulation of water pollution and, finally, air pollution control. They also highlight the importance of institutional development, with significant roles for degree of private property protection, effectiveness of the legal/judicial system and efficiency of public administration. Controlling for these variables, "Green" sector indices should be positively correlated with: (1) rural population density; and (2) agricultural and forest production share of national output. "Brown" sector indices should be positively correlated with: (1) particular focus on public health, indexed by life expectancy; (2) urban share of total population; (3) urban population density; and (4) manufacturing share of national output. Our analysis of overall regulatory performance reveals strong cross-country associations with income per capita, security of property rights, and general development of the legal and regulatory system. Surprisingly, however, we find only insignificant or perverse associations with degree of popular representation and freedom of information. For both the Green and Brown indices, performance is again strongly associated with income per capita, freedom of property and (in small samples) measures of regulatory efficiency. The two specifically rural sector variables (population density; proportion of GDP in agriculture and forestry) are only weakly associated with the Green index. The fit is much better for the Brown index: degree of urbanization, population density and manufacturing share in GDP all have the expected signs and relatively high significance. Life expectancy as a proxy for public health priority has no independent effect. In summary, our findings suggest that a detailed, quantified analysis of the UNCED reports can yield comparable and plausible indices of environmental policy performance across countries. Cross-country variations in our environmental index are explained well by variations in income per capita, degree of urbanization and industrialization, security of property rights and general administrative efficiency.

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 Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Oxford Development Studies.

Volume (Year): 29 (2001)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 173-187

in new window

Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:29:y:2001:i:2:p:173-187
DOI: 10.1080/13600810125568
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Order Information: Web:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

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:taf:oxdevs:v:29:y:2001:i:2:p:173-187. 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: (Chris Longhurst)

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.