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Delinking Economic Growth from Environmental Degradation? A Literature Survey on the Environmental Kuznets Curve Hypothesis

  • Sigrid Stagl

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Vienna University of Economics & B.A.)

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    The effect of economic growth on environmental quality is much under dispute. A number of empirical studies have made the claim that there exist in some income ranges a positive relation between per capita income and some measure of environmental quality. According to this inverted U-shaped pattern of different pollutants relative to per capita incomes in different countries which is also called the ”Environmental Kuznets Curve” (EKC), environmental pressure increases up to a point as income goes up; after the turning point environmental quality improves as income keeps rising. Possible explanations for this pattern are seen in the progression of economic development, from clean agrarian economies to polluting industrial economies to clean service economies. This trend is enhanced through the transfer of cleaner technology from high-income countries to low-income countries and the tendency of people with higher income having a higher preference for environmental quality. Since this relationship is so fundamental to questions of economic development and sustainability it has provoked a vast load of research over the last seven years supporting but also heavily criticizing the results and conclusions. This paper gives an overview of the literature published on this topic to date and the conceptual, methodological and fundamental critique put forward.

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    Paper provided by Vienna University of Economics and Business Research Group: Growth and Employment in Europe: Sustainability and Competitiveness in its series Working Papers with number geewp06.

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    Date of creation: Sep 1999
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    Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwgee:geewp06
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    17. Pingo Wang & Alok Bohara & Robert Berrens & Kishore Gawande, 1998. "A risk-based environmental Kuznets curve for US hazardous waste sites," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(12), pages 761-763.
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    26. Koop, Gary & Tole, Lise, 1999. "Is there an environmental Kuznets curve for deforestation?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 231-244, February.
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