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Inequality and environmental policy

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  • E. Somanathan

    (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)

Abstract

A positive theory of mitigation of environmental degradation is discussed in order to understand the formation of environmental policy. When an environmental problem is not mitigated, this is because those affected don't know it is happening, cannot locate the cause, don't have the resources to abate the problem if they are its producers, or don't have the political power to influence policy to stop the problem if they are not its producers. The last is related to inequalities in political power and its implications are examined further. These include implications for the spatial spread of unmitigated pollutants produced by the powerful as opposed to the poor, and the implications of political structure for the overall level of pollution. These and related hypotheses are examined with reference to examples, and, where possible, with representative data. It is shown that there is an important sense in which the "Environmental Kuznets Curve" does not exist.

Suggested Citation

  • E. Somanathan, 2002. "Inequality and environmental policy," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 02-02, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
  • Handle: RePEc:ind:isipdp:02-02
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    File URL: http://www.isid.ac.in/~pu/dispapers/dp02-02.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Frank, Robert H, 1985. "The Demand for Unobservable and Other Nonpositional Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 101-116, March.
    2. Boyce, James K., 1994. "Inequality as a cause of environmental degradation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 169-178, December.
    3. James Boyce, 1994. "Inequality as a Cause of Environmental Degradation," Published Studies ps1, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    4. Scruggs, Lyle A., 1998. "Political and economic inequality and the environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 259-275, September.
    5. Sheryl Ball & Catherine Eckel & Philip J. Grossman & William Zame, 2001. "Status in Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 161-188.
    6. Ng, Yew-Kwang & Wang, Jianguo, 1993. "Relative income, aspiration, environmental quality, individual and political myopia : Why may the rat-race for material growth be welfare-reducing?," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 3-23, July.
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