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Pollution Havens and the Trade in Toxic Chemicals: Evidence from U.S. Trade Flows

  • John P. Tang

Does increased environmental protection decrease the emission of pollutants or merely displace them? Using newly available trade data, this study examines the flows of a panel of chemicals designated as toxic by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). Estimates from a differences-in-differences model indicate a significant increase in net imports when a chemical is listed on TRI, which suggests production offshoring. Furthermore, I find that increased imports due to this “pollution haven effect” are sourced disproportionately from poorer countries, which are likely to have lower environmental protection standards. At the same time, I observe the bulk of American trade in toxic chemicals occurs with other wealthy countries, which may be attributed to the capital intensity of chemical production.

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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 10-12.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:10-12
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  1. Akira Hibiki & Shunsuke Managi, 2010. "Environmental Information Provision, Market Valuation, and Firm Incentives: An Empirical Study of the Japanese PRTR System," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 86(2), pages 382-393.
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  4. Linda Bui, 2005. "Public Disclosure of Private Information as a Tool for Regulating Environmental Emissions: Firm-Level Responses by Petroleum Refineries to the Toxics Release Inventory," Working Papers 05-13, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  5. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Andrew K. Rose, 2005. "Is Trade Good or Bad for the Environment? Sorting Out the Causality," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 85-91, February.
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  7. Cole, Matthew A. & Elliott, Robert J. R., 2003. "Determining the trade-environment composition effect: the role of capital, labor and environmental regulations," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 363-383, November.
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  11. Werner Antweiler & Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 1998. "Is Free Trade Good for the Environment?," NBER Working Papers 6707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Tobey, James A, 1990. "The Effects of Domestic Environmental Policies on Patterns of World Trade: An Empirical Test," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 191-209.
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  16. repec:oup:qjecon:v:119:y:2004:i:1:p:249-275 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Copeland,B.R. & Scott Taylor,M., 2003. "Trade, growth and the environment," Working papers 10, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  18. David I. Stern, 2003. "The Rise and Fall of the Environmental Kuznets Curve," Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics 0302, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics.
  19. David Wheeler, 2002. "Beyond Pollution Havens," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 2(2), pages 1-10, 05.
  20. Hettige, Hemamala & Mani, Muthukumara & Wheeler, David, 2000. "Industrial pollution in economic development: the environmental Kuznets curve revisited," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 445-476, August.
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  23. Costantini, Valeria & Mazzanti, Massimiliano, 2012. "On the green and innovative side of trade competitiveness? The impact of environmental policies and innovation on EU exports," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 132-153.
  24. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
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