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Better to grow or better to improve? Measuring environmental efficiency in OECD countries with a Stochastic Environmental Kuznets Frontier

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  • Badunenko, Oleg
  • Galeotti, Marzio
  • Hunt, Lester C.

Abstract

The standard approach to the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) holds that as a country develops and GDP per capita grows environmental degradation initially increases but eventually it reaches a turning point where environmental degradation begins to decline. Environmental degradation takes many forms, one of them being emissions of harmful gases. According to the EKC concept, a country can reduce emissions by ‘growing’. The standard approach implicitly assumes that a country emits as little as possible for its economic development, whereas in reality, a country might emit above the best attainable level of emissions. Therefore, emissions could be reduced before and after the turning point by becoming more environmentally efficient – i.e., ‘improving’ the emissions level. This article proposes a Stochastic Environmental Kuznets Frontier (SEKF) which is estimated for CO2 emissions for OECD countries and used to benchmark each country before and after the turning point differently, thus, indicating how a country could ‘grow’ and/or ‘improve’ to reduce its CO2 emissions. Additionally, we analyse the role of the stringency of environmental policies in reducing a country’s carbon inefficiency measured by the distance from the benchmark EKC and find widespread carbon inefficiencies that could be reduced by more stringent market-based environmental policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Badunenko, Oleg & Galeotti, Marzio & Hunt, Lester C., 2021. "Better to grow or better to improve? Measuring environmental efficiency in OECD countries with a Stochastic Environmental Kuznets Frontier," FEEM Working Papers 316226, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:feemwp:316226
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.316226
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Environmental Economics and Policy;

    JEL classification:

    • O44 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Environment and Growth
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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