Cultural and Political Determinants of Air Quality
This paper investigates empirically the determinants of air quality in a large cross-section of countries. We assess air quality by sulfur emissions and, following the literature, we consider three different groups of determinants: economic, political and cultural. We confirm the existence of an EKC for sulfur (inverted-U shaped relation between wealth and pollution). Political determinants are proxied by ethnic or religious fractionalization indexes and the country’s legal origin (we consider five possible legal origins: English common law, French civil law, German civil law, Scandinavian legal system and Socialist legal system). Cultural determinants are assessed by the percentage of a country’s population that belongs to one of the three main religions (Catholic, Muslim or Protestant). Our goal is to establish the economic, political and cultural profile of a country that manages to be efficient in providing good air quality. We conclude that a country will provide higher air quality if it has one or more of the following characteristics: it is ethnic and/or religious homogeneous, it has a German or Scandinavian legal tradition; it is Protestant.
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