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Footloose and Pollution-Free


  • Josh Ederington
  • Arik Levinson
  • Jenny Minier


In numerous studies, economists have found little empirical evidence that environmental regulations affect trade flows. In this paper, we propose and test several common explanations for why the effect of environmental regulations on trade may be difficult to detect. We demonstrate that while most trade occurs among industrialized economies, environmental regulations have stronger effects on trade between industrialized and developing economies. We find that for most industries, pollution abatement costs are a small component of total costs, and are unrelated to trade flows. In addition, we show that those industries with the largest pollution abatement costs also happen to be the least geographically mobile, or footloose.' After accounting for these distinctions, we measure a significant effect of pollution abatement costs on imports from developing countries, and in pollution-intensive, footloose industries.

Suggested Citation

  • Josh Ederington & Arik Levinson & Jenny Minier, 2003. "Footloose and Pollution-Free," NBER Working Papers 9718, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9718
    Note: ITI PE EEE

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    1. Martin D. D. Evans & Richard K. Lyons, 2017. "Are Different-Currency Assets Imperfect Substitutes?," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Studies in Foreign Exchange Economics, chapter 10, pages 415-456 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    3. Eliste, Paavo & Fredriksson, Per G., 2002. "Environmental Regulations, Transfers, and Trade: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 234-250, March.
    4. Wolfgang Keller & Arik Levinson, 2000. "Environmental Regulations and FDI Inflows to U.S. States," Working Papers gueconwpa~00-00-06, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
    5. Robert C. Feenstra, 1996. "U.S. Imports, 1972-1994: Data and Concordances," NBER Working Papers 5515, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. McGuire, Martin C., 1982. "Regulation, factor rewards, and international trade," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 335-354, April.
    7. 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.
    8. Ellison, Glenn & Glaeser, Edward L, 1997. "Geographic Concentration in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: A Dartboard Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(5), pages 889-927, October.
    9. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 1994. "North-South Trade and the Environment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 755-787.
    11. Susmita Dasgupta & Ashoka Mody & Subhendu Roy & David Wheeler, 2001. "Environmental Regulation and Development: A Cross-country Empirical Analysis," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(2), pages 173-187.
    12. Siebert, Horst, 1977. "Environmental Quality and the Gains from Trade," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(4), pages 657-673.
    13. Arik Levinson and M. Scott Taylor, 2004. "Unmasking the Pollution Haven Hypothesis," Working Papers gueconwpa~04-04-04, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
    14. Pethig, Rudiger, 1976. "Pollution, welfare, and environmental policy in the theory of Comparative Advantage," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 160-169, February.
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    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade

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