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The Environmental Kuznets Curve: Tipping Points, Uncertainty and Weak Identification

  • Jean-Thomas Bernard
  • Michael Gavin
  • Lynda Khalaf
  • Marcel Voia

We consider an empirical estimation of the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) for carbon dioxide and sulphur, with a focus on confidence set estimation of the tipping point. Various econometric – parametric and nonparametric – methods are considered, reflecting the implications of persistence, endogeneity, the necessity of breaking down our panel regionally, and the small number of countries within each panel. In particular, we propose an inference method that corrects for potential weak-identification of the tipping point. Weak identification may occur if the true EKC is linear while a quadratic income term is nevertheless imposed into the estimated equation. Relevant literature to date confirms that non-linearity of the EKC is indeed not granted, which provides the motivation for our work. Viewed collectively, our results confirm an inverted U-shaped EKC in the OECD countries but generally not elsewhere, although a local-pollutant analysis suggest favorable exceptions beyond the OECD. Our measures of uncertainty confirm that it is difficult to identify economically plausible tipping points. Policy-relevant estimates of the tipping point can nevertheless be recovered from a local-pollutant long-run or non-parametric perspective.

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Paper provided by CREATE in its series Cahiers de recherche CREATE with number 2011-4.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:lvl:creacr:2011-4
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