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Demographic change and the demand for environmental regulation

  • Matthew E. Kahn

    (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University)

Environmental regulation in the United States has increased pollution abatement expenditure as a percentage of gross national product from 1.7 percent in 1972 to an estimated 2.6 percent in the year 2000. This rise in regulation has coincided with demographic and economic changes that include rising educational levels, a growing minority population, an aging population, and decreasing employment in polluting industries. This paper examines whether these trends have contributed to increasing aggregate demand for environmental regulation. New evidence on voting on environmental ballots in California, local government environmental expenditures across the United States, and 25 years of congressional voting on environmental issues is examined to document the demographic correlates of environmental support. Minorities and the more educated are more pro-green, whereas manufacturing workers oppose environmental regulation. While demographics help explain observed differences in environmental support and thus can help predict long trends in the “average voter's” environmentalism, environmentalism varies substantially year to year unrelated to population demographics. © 2002 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/pam.1039
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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Volume (Year): 21 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 45-62

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Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:21:y:2002:i:1:p:45-62
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  1. Matsusaka, John G, 1992. "Economics of Direct Legislation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 541-71, May.
  2. 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.
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  5. James M. Poterba, 1997. "Demographic structure and the political economy of public education," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 48-66.
  6. Pashigian, B Peter, 1985. "Environmental Regulation: Whose Self-interests Are Being Protected?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 23(4), pages 551-84, October.
  7. Dean, Judith M., 1992. "Trade and the environment : a survey of the literature," Policy Research Working Paper Series 966, The World Bank.
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