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Trade Liberalization and Pollution Havens

  • Josh Ederington
  • Arik Levinson
  • Jenny Minier

U.S. Presidential Executive Order 13141 commits the United States to a careful assessment and consideration of the environmental impacts of trade agreements.' The most direct mechanism through which trade liberalization would affect environmental quality in the U.S. is through changes in the composition of industries. Freer trade means greater specialization, increasing the concentration of polluting industries in some countries and decreasing it in others. Indeed, in this paper we predict a substantial reduction in U.S. pollution from 1978-94 due entirely to a shift in the composition of U.S. manufacturing toward cleaner industries. We then use annual industry-level data on imports to the U.S. to examine whether this compositional shift can be traced to the significant trade liberalization that occurred over the same time period; we conclude that no such connection exists. First, we find that a shift toward cleaner industries, similar to that observed in U.S. manufacturing, has also occurred among U.S. imports. Second, we find no evidence that pollution-intensive industries have been disproportionately affected by the tariff changes over that time period.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10585.

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Date of creation: Jun 2004
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Publication status: published as Ederington Josh & Levinson Arik & Minier Jenny, 2004. "Trade Liberalization and Pollution Havens," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(2), pages 1-24, November.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10585
Note: ITI EEE
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  1. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Arik Levinson & M. Scott Taylor, 2004. "Unmasking the Pollution Haven Effect," NBER Working Papers 10629, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ederington Josh & Levinson Arik & Minier Jenny, 2004. "Trade Liberalization and Pollution Havens," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(2), pages 1-24, November.
  4. Revesz, Richard L. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Environmental Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
  5. Josh Ederington & Arik Levinson & Jenny Minier, 2003. "Footloose and Pollution-Free," NBER Working Papers 9718, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Josh Ederington & Jenny Minier, 2003. "Is environmental policy a secondary trade barrier? An empirical analysis," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 36(1), pages 137-154, February.
  7. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  8. Werner Antweiler & Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 1998. "Is Free Trade Good for the Environment?," NBER Working Papers 6707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Hettige, Hemamala & Lucas, Robert E B & Wheeler, David, 1992. "The Toxic Intensity of Industrial Production: Global Patterns, Trends, and Trade Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 478-81, May.
  10. 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.
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