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Foreign Direct Investment and Pollution Havens: Evaluating the Evidence from China

  • Dean, Judith M.
  • Lovely, Mary E.
  • Wang, Hua

One of the most contentious debates today is whether pollution-intensive industries seek locations with weak environmental standards, turning these locations into 'pollution havens." Empirical studies to date show little evidence to support the pollution haven hypothesis, but suffer potentially from omitted variable bias, specification, and measurement errors. This paper estimates the strength of pollution-haven behavior by examining the location choices of equity joint venture (EJV) projects in China. We derive a location choice model from a theoretical framework that incorporates the firm's production and abatement decision, agglomeration and factor abundance. We estimate conditional logit and nested multinomial logit models using new data sets containing information on a sample of EJV projects, effective environmental levies on water pollution, and estimates of Chinese emissions and abatement costs for 3-digit ISIC industries. Results from 2886 manufacturing joint venture projects during 1993-1996 show EJVs from all source countries go into provinces with high concentrations of foreign investment, relatively abundant stocks of skilled workers, concentrations of foreign firms, and special incentives. Environmental stringency does affect location choice, but not in the manner described by the pollution haven hypothesis. Relatively weak environmental levies are a significant attraction for joint ventures with partners from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and other Southeast Asian developing countries. In contrast, joint ventures with partners from industrial country sources (e.g., US, UK and Japan) are actually attracted by stringent environmental levies, regardless of the pollution intensity of the industry. We discuss the likely role of technological differences in explaining these results.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/15854
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Paper provided by United States International Trade Commission, Office of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 15854.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ags:uitcoe:15854
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  1. Javorcik Beata Smarzynska & Wei Shang-Jin, 2003. "Pollution Havens and Foreign Direct Investment: Dirty Secret or Popular Myth?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(2), pages 1-34, December.
  2. Levinson, Arik, 1996. "Environmental regulations and manufacturers' location choices: Evidence from the Census of Manufactures," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1-2), pages 5-29, October.
  3. Kevin H. Zhang & James R. Markusen, 1997. "Vertical Multinationals and Host-Country Characteristics," NBER Working Papers 6203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Judith M. Dean, 2002. "Does trade liberalization harm the environment? A new test," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(4), pages 819-842, November.
  5. Hua Wang & Nlandu Mamingi & Benoit Laplante & Susmita Dasgupta, 2003. "Incomplete Enforcement of Pollution Regulation: Bargaining Power of Chinese Factories," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 24(3), pages 245-262, March.
  6. Werner Antweiler & Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 2001. "Is Free Trade Good for the Environment?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 877-908, September.
  7. Cletus C. Coughlin & Eran Segev, 2000. "Foreign Direct Investment in China: A Spatial Econometric Study," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(1), pages 1-23, 01.
  8. Josh Ederington & Arik Levinson & Jenny Minier, 2003. "Footloose and Pollution-Free," NBER Working Papers 9718, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Eskeland, Gunnar S. & Harrison, Ann E., 2003. "Moving to greener pastures? Multinationals and the pollution haven hypothesis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 1-23, February.
  10. Cheng, Leonard K. & Kwan, Yum K., 2000. "What are the determinants of the location of foreign direct investment? The Chinese experience," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 379-400, August.
  11. Wang, Hua & Wheeler, David, 2003. "Equilibrium pollution and economic development in China," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(03), pages 451-466, July.
  12. Arik Levinson and M. Scott Taylor, 2004. "Unmasking the Pollution Haven Hypothesis," Working Papers gueconwpa~04-04-04, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  13. Dean, Judith M., 1992. "Trade and the environment : a survey of the literature," Policy Research Working Paper Series 966, The World Bank.
  14. Fung, K. C. & Iizaka, Hitomi & Parker, Stephen, 2002. "Determinants of U.S. and Japanese Direct Investment in China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 567-578, September.
  15. Head, Keith & Ries, John, 1996. "Inter-City Competition for Foreign Investment: Static and Dynamic Effects of China's Incentive Areas," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 38-60, July.
  16. Hua Wang & Wheeler, David, 1996. "Pricing industrial pollution in China : an econometric analysis of the levy system," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1644, The World Bank.
  17. Broadman, Harry G. & Xiaolun Sun, 1997. "The distribution of foreign direct investment in China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1720, The World Bank.
  18. Wolfgang Keller & Arik Levinson, 2002. "Pollution Abatement Costs and Foreign Direct Investment Inflows to U.S. States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(4), pages 691-703, November.
  19. Harry G. Broadman & Xiaolun Sun, 1997. "The Distribution of Foreign Direct Investment in China," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(3), pages 339-361, 05.
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