IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Economic growth and global particulate pollution concentrations


  • David I. Stern

    () (Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University)

  • Jeremy van Dijk

    (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Australia)


Though the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) was originally developed to model the ambient concentrations of pollutants, most subsequent applications focused on pollution emissions. Yet, previous research suggests that it is more likely that economic growth could eventually reduce the concentrations of local pollutants than emissions. We examine the role of income, convergence, and time related factors in explaining changes in PM2.5 pollution in a global panel of 158 countries between 1990 and 2010. We find that economic growth has positive but relatively small effects, time effects are also small but larger in wealthier and formerly centrally planned economies, and, for our main dataset, convergence effects are small and not statistically significant. There is no in-sample income turning point for regressions that include both the convergence variables and a set of control variables.

Suggested Citation

  • David I. Stern & Jeremy van Dijk, 2016. "Economic growth and global particulate pollution concentrations," CCEP Working Papers 1604, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:een:ccepwp:1604

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ordás Criado, C. & Valente, S. & Stengos, T., 2011. "Growth and pollution convergence: Theory and evidence," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 199-214, September.
    2. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2010. "The Credibility Revolution in Empirical Economics: How Better Research Design Is Taking the Con out of Econometrics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 3-30, Spring.
    3. Robert C. Feenstra & Robert Inklaar & Marcel P. Timmer, 2015. "The Next Generation of the Penn World Table," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(10), pages 3150-3182, October.
    4. Stern, David I., 2012. "Modeling international trends in energy efficiency," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 2200-2208.
    5. Wagner, Martin, 2008. "The carbon Kuznets curve: A cloudy picture emitted by bad econometrics?," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 388-408, August.
    6. Rockey, James & Temple, Jonathan, 2016. "Growth econometrics for agnostics and true believers," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 86-102.
    7. Grossman, G.M & Krueger, A.B., 1991. "Environmental Impacts of a North American Free Trade Agreement," Papers 158, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
    8. Ashleigh Keene & Steven C. Deller, 2015. "Evidence of the Environmental Kuznets’ Curve among US Counties and the Impact of Social Capital," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 38(4), pages 358-387, October.
    9. Sanchez, Luis F. & Stern, David I., 2016. "Drivers of industrial and non-industrial greenhouse gas emissions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 17-24.
    10. Selden Thomas M. & Song Daqing, 1994. "Environmental Quality and Development: Is There a Kuznets Curve for Air Pollution Emissions?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 147-162, September.
    11. Bernard Fingleton & Julie Le Gallo, 2008. "Estimating spatial models with endogenous variables, a spatial lag and spatially dependent disturbances: Finite sample properties," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 87(3), pages 319-339, August.
    12. Stern, David I. & Gerlagh, Reyer & Burke, Paul J., 2017. "Modeling the emissions–income relationship using long-run growth rates," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(06), pages 699-724, December.
    13. Julie Le Gallo & Bernard Fingleton, 2008. "Estimating spatial models with endogenous variables, a spatial lag and spatially dependent disturbances : finite sample properties," Post-Print hal-00485035, HAL.
    14. Ezcurra, Roberto, 2007. "Is there cross-country convergence in carbon dioxide emissions?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 1363-1372, February.
    15. Vollebergh, Herman R.J. & Melenberg, Bertrand & Dijkgraaf, Elbert, 2009. "Identifying reduced-form relations with panel data: The case of pollution and income," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 27-42, July.
    16. Per Fredriksson & Jim Wollscheid, 2015. "Legal Origins and Climate Change Policies in Former Colonies," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 62(2), pages 309-327, October.
    17. Richard T. Carson, 2010. "The Environmental Kuznets Curve: Seeking Empirical Regularity and Theoretical Structure," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 4(1), pages 3-23, Winter.
    18. William T. Harbaugh & Arik Levinson & David Molloy Wilson, 2002. "Reexamining The Empirical Evidence For An Environmental Kuznets Curve," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 541-551, August.
    19. Pettersson, Fredrik & Maddison, David & Acar, Sevil & Söderholm, Patrik, 2014. "Convergence of Carbon Dioxide Emissions: A Review of the Literature," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 7(2), pages 141-178, July.
    20. Csereklyei, Zsuzsanna & Stern, David I., 2015. "Global energy use: Decoupling or convergence?," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 633-641.
    21. Xavier Sala-I-Martin & Gernot Doppelhofer & Ronald I. Miller, 2004. "Determinants of Long-Term Growth: A Bayesian Averaging of Classical Estimates (BACE) Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 813-835, September.
    22. Samuel Bazzi & Michael A. Clemens, 2013. "Blunt Instruments: Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Identifying the Causes of Economic Growth," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 152-186, April.
    23. Romano, Joseph P. & Wolf, Michael, 2017. "Resurrecting weighted least squares," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 197(1), pages 1-19.
    24. Stern, David I. & Common, Michael S. & Barbier, Edward B., 1996. "Economic growth and environmental degradation: The environmental Kuznets curve and sustainable development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(7), pages 1151-1160, July.
    25. Stern, David I., 2010. "Between estimates of the emissions-income elasticity," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 2173-2182, September.
    26. Shafik, Nemat, 1994. "Economic Development and Environmental Quality: An Econometric Analysis," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(0), pages 757-773, Supplemen.
    27. Martin Wagner, 2015. "The Environmental Kuznets Curve, Cointegration and Nonlinearity," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(6), pages 948-967, September.
    28. Brajer, Victor & Mead, Robert W. & Xiao, Feng, 2011. "Searching for an Environmental Kuznets Curve in China's air pollution," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 383-397, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Economic Growth and Global Particulate Pollution Concentrations
      by (David Stern) in Stochastic Trend on 2016-03-11 16:56:00
    2. Annual Review 2016
      by (David Stern) in Stochastic Trend on 2016-12-26 17:08:00


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:jbioec:v:19:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10818-017-9243-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. David I. Stern, 2017. "The environmental Kuznets curve after 25 years," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 7-28, April.
    3. Maralgua Och, 2017. "Empirical Investigation of the Environmental Kuznets Curve Hypothesis for Nitrous Oxide Emissions for Mongolia," International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, Econjournals, vol. 7(1), pages 117-128.

    More about this item


    air pollution; economic growth; environmental Kuznets curve;

    JEL classification:

    • O44 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Environment and Growth
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:een:ccepwp:1604. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (David Stern). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.