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Local Environmental Regulation and Plant-Level Productivity

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  • Randy Becker

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of environmental regulation on the productivity of manufacturing plants in the United States. Establishment-level data from three Censuses of Manufactures are used to estimate 3-factor Cobb-Douglas production functions that include a measure of the stringency of environmental regulation faced by manufacturing plants. In contrast to previous studies, this paper examines effects on plants in all manufacturing industries, not just those in “dirty” industries. Further, this paper employs spatial-temporal variation in environmental compliance costs to identify effects, using a time-varying county-level index that is based on multiple years of establishment-level data from the Pollution Abatement Costs and Expenditures survey and the Annual Survey of Manufactures. Results suggest that, for the average manufacturing plant, the effect on productivity of being in a county with higher environmental compliance costs is relatively small and often not statistically significant. For the average plant, the main effect of environmental regulation may not be in the spatial and temporal dimensions.

Suggested Citation

  • Randy Becker, 2010. "Local Environmental Regulation and Plant-Level Productivity," Working Papers 10-30, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau, revised Aug 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:10-30
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Randy A. Becker, 2011. "On Spatial Heterogeneity in Environmental Compliance Costs," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 87(1), pages 28-44.
    2. Becker, Randy A., 2005. "Air pollution abatement costs under the Clean Air Act: evidence from the PACE survey," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 144-169, July.
    3. Barbera, Anthony J & McConnell, Virginia D, 1986. "Effects of Pollution Control on Industry Productivity: A Factor Demand Approach," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(2), pages 161-172, December.
    4. Carlo Carraro & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2001. "Behavioral and Distributional Effects of Environmental Policy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number carr01-1.
    5. Gray, Wayne B. & Shadbegian, Ronald J., 2003. "Plant vintage, technology, and environmental regulation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 384-402, November.
    6. Arik Levinson, 2001. "An Industry-Adjusted Index of State Environmental Compliance Costs," NBER Chapters, in: Behavioral and Distributional Effects of Environmental Policy, pages 131-158, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Wayne B Gray & Ronald J Shadbegian, 1994. "Pollution Abatement Costs, Regulation And Plant-Level Productivity," Working Papers 94-14, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    8. Randy Becker & Vernon Henderson, 2000. "Effects of Air Quality Regulations on Polluting Industries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 379-421, April.
    9. Boyd, Gale A. & McClelland, John D., 1999. "The Impact of Environmental Constraints on Productivity Improvement in Integrated Paper Plants," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 121-142, September.
    10. Wayne B. Gray, 1997. "Manufacturing Plant Location: Does State Pollution Regulation Matter?," NBER Working Papers 5880, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Virginia D. McConnell & Robert M. Schwab, 1990. "The Impact of Environmental Regulation on Industry Location Decisions: The Motor Vehicle Industry," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 66(1), pages 67-81.
    12. Shadbegian, Ronald J. & Gray, Wayne B., 2005. "Pollution abatement expenditures and plant-level productivity: A production function approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2-3), pages 196-208, August.
    13. Adam B. Jaffe et al., 1995. "Environmental Regulation and the Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturing: What Does the Evidence Tell Us?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 132-163, March.
    14. 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.
    15. Gray, Wayne B, 1987. "The Cost of Regulation: OSHA, EPA and the Productivity Slowdown," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 998-1006, December.
    16. Randy A. Becker, 2011. "On Spatial Heterogeneity in Environmental Compliance Costs," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 87(1), pages 28-44.
    17. Gollop, Frank M & Roberts, Mark J, 1983. "Environmental Regulations and Productivity Growth: The Case of Fossil-Fueled Electric Power Generation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 654-674, August.
    18. Michael Greenstone, 2002. "The Impacts of Environmental Regulations on Industrial Activity: Evidence from the 1970 and 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments and the Census of Manufactures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1175-1219, December.
    19. Barbera, Anthony J. & McConnell, Virginia D., 1990. "The impact of environmental regulations on industry productivity: Direct and indirect effects," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 50-65, January.
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    Keywords

    environmental regulation; productivity; U.S. manufacturing;
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