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The Ups and Downs of the Environmental Kuznets Curve

By now the observation that some pollutants appear to increase and then decrease with economic development has become a widely accepted stylized fact. This paper argues that the fundamental insight of the empirical literature is merely that pollution does not necessarily increase with economic growth, and that the fundamental insight of the theoretical literature is that the observed inverse-U-shaped pollution-income relationship is neither necessary nor sufficient for Pareto-efficient environmental policies. Furthermore, the inverse-U-shaped path is not unique to environmental phenomenon, and may exist wherever a desirable good generates an undesirable side-effect. Finally, all of these points can be made without most of the econometric or theoretical mechanics that fill this literature.

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Paper provided by Georgetown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number gueconwpa~01-01-08.

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Date of creation: 08 Jan 2001
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Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~01-01-08
Contact details of provider: Postal: Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
Phone: 202-687-6074
Fax: 202-687-6102
Web page: http://econ.georgetown.edu/
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Order Information: Postal: Roger Lagunoff Professor of Economics Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
Web: http://econ.georgetown.edu/ Email:


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  1. M. Galeotti & A. Lanza, 1999. "Desperately seeking (environmental) Kuznets," Working Paper CRENoS 199901, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
  2. Beverly Hirtle, 2008. "Credit derivatives and bank credit supply," Staff Reports 276, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  3. Kahn, Matthew E., 1998. "A household level environmental Kuznets curve," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 269-273, May.
  4. Andreoni, James & Levinson, Arik, 2001. "The simple analytics of the environmental Kuznets curve," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 269-286, May.
  5. William Harbaugh & Arik Levinson & David Wilson, 2000. "Reexamining the Empirical Evidence for an Environmental Kuznets Curve," NBER Working Papers 7711, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bradford David F. & Fender Rebecca A & Shore Stephen H. & Wagner Martin, 2005. "The Environmental Kuznets Curve: Exploring a Fresh Specification," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-30, June.
  7. 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.
  8. Torras, Mariano & Boyce, James K., 1998. "Income, inequality, and pollution: a reassessment of the environmental Kuznets Curve," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 147-160, May.
  9. Pingo Wang & Alok Bohara & Robert Berrens & Kishore Gawande, 1998. "A risk-based environmental Kuznets curve for US hazardous waste sites," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(12), pages 761-763.
  10. Suri, Vivek & Chapman, Duane, 1998. "Economic growth, trade and energy: implications for the environmental Kuznets curve," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 195-208, May.
  11. Taskin, Fatma & Zaim, Osman, 2000. "Searching for a Kuznets curve in environmental efficiency using kernel estimation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 217-223, August.
  12. Larry E. Jones & Rodolfo E. Manuelli, 2000. "Endogenous policy choice: the case of pollution and growth," Staff Report 276, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  13. Selden Thomas M. & Song Daqing, 1995. "Neoclassical Growth, the J Curve for Abatement, and the Inverted U Curve for Pollution," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 162-168, September.
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