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Pollution, Mortality and Optimal Environmental Policy


  • Aditya Goenka
  • Saqib Jafarey
  • William Pouliot


We study an overlapping generations economy in which environmental degradation results from economic activity and affects agents' uncertain lifetimes. Life expectancy depends positively on economic activity and negatively on the stock of pollution. This can make the growth-survival relationship convex over some region and lead to two non-trivial steady states, with one is a poverty trap. Uniform abatement taxes can cause the poverty trap to widen while increasing incomes at the high steady state. We also show that the optimal second-best abatement tax is non-homogeneous and increasing in the capital stock, and exhibits a variety of dynamic possibilities: non-existence of a steady state equilibrium, multiplicity of steady state equilibria and optimal policy cycles around some steady states.

Suggested Citation

  • Aditya Goenka & Saqib Jafarey & William Pouliot, 2012. "Pollution, Mortality and Optimal Environmental Policy," Discussion Papers 12-05, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
  • Handle: RePEc:bir:birmec:12-05

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Xavier Pautrel, 2012. "Pollution, Private Investment in Healthcare, and Environmental Policy," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(2), pages 334-357, June.
    2. Mariani, Fabio & Pérez-Barahona, Agustín & Raffin, Natacha, 2010. "Life expectancy and the environment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 798-815, April.
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    5. Chakraborty, Shankha, 2004. "Endogenous lifetime and economic growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 116(1), pages 119-137, May.
    6. Pautrel, Xavier, 2009. "Pollution and life expectancy: How environmental policy can promote growth," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 1040-1051, February.
    7. John, A & Pecchenino, R, 1994. "An Overlapping Generations Model of Growth and the Environment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(427), pages 1393-1410, November.
    8. Palivos, Theodore & Varvarigos, Dimitrios, 2017. "Pollution Abatement As A Source Of Stabilization And Long-Run Growth," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(03), pages 644-676, April.
    9. Pierre-André Jouvet & Pierre Pestieau & Gregory Ponthiere, 2010. "Longevity and environmental quality in an OLG model," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 100(3), pages 191-216, July.
    10. Evans, Mary F. & Smith, V. Kerry, 2005. "Do new health conditions support mortality-air pollution effects?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 496-518, November.
    11. Koop, Gary & Tole, Lise, 2004. "Measuring the health effects of air pollution: to what extent can we really say that people are dying from bad air?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 30-54, January.
    12. George Economides & Apostolis Philippopoulos, 2008. "Growth enhancing policy is the means to sustain the environment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(1), pages 207-219, January.
    13. Dimitrios Varvarigos, 2010. "On the Joint Dynamics of Pollution and Capital Accumulation," Discussion Papers in Economics 11/05, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
    14. Roger D. Peng & Francesca Dominici & Thomas A. Louis, 2006. "Model choice in time series studies of air pollution and mortality," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(2), pages 179-203.
    15. Dimitrios Varvarigos, 2008. "Environmental Quality, Life Expectancy, and Sustainable Economic Growth," Discussion Papers in Economics 08/19, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
    16. George Economides & Apostolis Philippopoulos, 2005. "Should Green Governments Give Priority to Environmental Policies over Growth-Enhancing Policies?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1433, CESifo Group Munich.
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    1. repec:kap:enreec:v:68:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10640-016-0041-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Wang, Min & Zhao, Jinhua & Bhattacharya, Joydeep, 2015. "Optimal health and environmental policies in a pollution-growth nexus," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 160-179.
    3. Nguyen Than Dao & Ottmar Edenhofer, 2014. "On the Fiscal Strategies of Escaping Poverty-Environment Traps (and) Towards Sustainable Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 4865, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Torben M. Andersen & Joydeep Bhattacharya & Pan Liu, 2016. "Resolving Intergenerational Conflict over the Environment under the Pareto Criterion," CESifo Working Paper Series 6053, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Lucas Bretschger & Alexandra Vinogradova, 2017. "Human Development at Risk: Economic Growth with Pollution-Induced Health Shocks," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 66(3), pages 481-495, March.

    More about this item


    Overlapping generations model; poverty traps; non-convexities; multiple steady states; pollution; optimal environmental policy; optimal abatement tax;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O23 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Fiscal and Monetary Policy in Development
    • O44 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Environment and Growth

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