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Technology, International Trade, and Pollution from U.S. Manufacturing

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  • Arik Levinson

Abstract

Total pollution emitted by U.S. manufacturers declined over the past 30 years by about 60 percent, even though real manufacturing output increased 70 percent. This improvement must result from a combination of two trends: (1) changes in production or abatement processes ("technology"); or (2) changes in the mix of goods manufactured in the United States, which itself may result from increased net imports of pollution-intensive goods ("international trade"). I first show that most of the decline in pollution from U.S. manufacturing has been the result of changing technology, rather than changes in the mix of goods produced, although the pace of that technology change has slowed over time. Second, I present evidence that increases in net imports of pollution-intensive goods are too small to explain more than about half of the pollution reductions from the changing mix of goods produced in the United States. Together, these two findings demonstrate that shifting polluting industries overseas has played at most a minor role in the cleanup of U.S. manufacturing.

Suggested Citation

  • Arik Levinson, 2007. "Technology, International Trade, and Pollution from U.S. Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 13616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13616 Note: EEE IO ITI
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D57 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Input-Output Tables and Analysis
    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation
    • 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

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