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The Effect of Clean Water Regulation on Profitability: Testing the Porter Hypothesis


  • Dylan G. Rassier
  • Dietrich Earnhart


Previous theoretical research provides opposing arguments regarding the effect of environmental regulation on profitability. This study provides empirical evidence on this debated effect by testing the "strong" version of the Porter hypothesis. We employ panel data analysis to examine the effect of water regulation, as measured by permitted wastewater discharge limits, on the profitability of publicly held firms operating within the chemical manufacturing industries. We find that tighter water regulation meaningfully lowers profitability. By reinterpreting profitability in terms of sales and costs, the results demonstrate that tighter water regulation increases costs conditioned on a given level of sales.

Suggested Citation

  • Dylan G. Rassier & Dietrich Earnhart, 2010. "The Effect of Clean Water Regulation on Profitability: Testing the Porter Hypothesis," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 86(2), pages 329-344.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:landec:v:86:y:2010:i:2:p:329-344

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ambec, Stefan & Barla, Philippe, 2002. "A theoretical foundation of the Porter hypothesis," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 355-360, May.
    2. Dean, Thomas J. & Brown, Robert L. & Stango, Victor, 2000. "Environmental Regulation as a Barrier to the Formation of Small Manufacturing Establishments: A Longitudinal Examination," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 56-75, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Ambec & Mark A. Cohen & Stewart Elgie & Paul Lanoie, 2013. "The Porter Hypothesis at 20: Can Environmental Regulation Enhance Innovation and Competitiveness?," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 7(1), pages 2-22, January.
    2. Doran, Justin & Ryan, Geraldine, 2012. "Regulation and Firm Perception, Eco-Innovation and Firm Performance," MPRA Paper 44578, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Meyer, Andrew & Pac, Grzegorz, 2013. "Environmental performance of state-owned and privatized eastern European energy utilities," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 205-214.
    4. Teemu Makkonen & Sari Repka, 2016. "The innovation inducement impact of environmental regulations on maritime transport: a literature review," International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 10(1), pages 69-86.
    5. Dietrich Earnhart & Dylan G. Rassier, 2016. "“Effective regulatory stringency” and firms’ profitability: the effects of effluent limits and government monitoring," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 111-145, October.
    6. Rassier, Dylan G. & Earnhart, Dietrich, 2015. "Effects of environmental regulation on actual and expected profitability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 129-140.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K23 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Regulated Industries and Administrative Law
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects


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