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The Impact of Pollution Abatement Investment on Productivity Change: AnEmpirical Comparison of the U.S., Germany, and Canada


  • Klaus Conrad
  • Catherine J. Morrison


It has often been asserted that imposition of environmental regulations in the 1970's may be a partial explanation for the productivity growth slowdowns experienced by most industrialized countries during that decade.The contention is that expenses incurred to satisfy these regulations, such as investment in pollution abatement capital, is unproductive in terms of measured output. Thus conventional productivity measures will be biased downward when such regulations are imposed. In this paper we construct a model which explicitly recognizes the difference between pollution abatement capital and "productive" capital and then use this framework to devleop an adjustment to nonparametric measures of productivity growth, purging them of the bias resulting from regulation. We measure the bias for the manufacturing sectors of three countries, the U.S., Canada and Germany, and thereby assess the impact of increased pollution abatement capital regulation on productivity growth. Our principal finding is that the bias, which depends on relative rates of growth of output and pollution abatement capital investment, is modest.

Suggested Citation

  • Klaus Conrad & Catherine J. Morrison, 1985. "The Impact of Pollution Abatement Investment on Productivity Change: AnEmpirical Comparison of the U.S., Germany, and Canada," NBER Working Papers 1763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1763
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christainsen, Gregory B. & Haveman, Robert H., 1981. "The contribution of environmental regulations to the slowdown in productivity growth," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 381-390, December.
    2. J. R. Norsworthy & Michael J. Harper & Kent Kunze, 1979. "The Slowdown in Productivity Growth: Analysis of Some Contributing factors," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 10(2), pages 387-422.
    3. Gollop, Frank M & Roberts, Mark J, 1983. "Environmental Regulations and Productivity Growth: The Case of Fossil-Fueled Electric Power Generation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 654-674, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wayne B Gray & Ronald J Shadbegian, 1993. "Environmental Regulation And Manufacturing Productivity At The Plant Level," Working Papers 93-6, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    2. Lanoie, Paul & Laplante, Benoît & Tanguay, Georges A., 1994. "La firme et l’environnement," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 70(2), pages 97-111, juin.
    3. Saleem Shaik & Glenn A Helmers & Michael Langemeier, 2005. "'Direct and Indirect Shadow Price Estimates of Nitrate Pollution Treated as an Undesirable Output and Input', Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics Vol. 27, No. 2 (December 2002) pp: 420-432," Development and Comp Systems 0512023, EconWPA.
    4. Erik Biørn & Rolf Golombek* & Arvid Raknerud, 1998. "Environmental Regulations and Plant Exit," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(1), pages 35-59, January.

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