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Trade Liberalization and Pollution Intensive Industries in Developing Countries: A Partial Equilibrium Approach

  • Frank Ackerman

    (The Global Development And Environment Institute at Tufts Universty)

  • Kevin Gallagher

    (The Global Development And Environment Institute at Tufts Universty)

Economic theory suggests that liberalization of trade between countries with differing levels of environmental protection could lead pollution- intensive industry to concentrate in the nations where regulations are lax. This effect, often referred to as the “pollution haven” hypothesis, is much discussed in theory, but finds only ambiguous support in empirical research to date. Methodologies used for research on trade and environment differ widely; many are difficult to apply to practical policy questions. We develop a simple, partial equilibrium model explicitly designed to analyze the effects of a change in trade policy. Our model analyzes the relative concentrations of “clean” and “dirty” industries in two nations or regions, before and after the policy change. While lacking the theoretical rigor and mathematical intricacy of other modeling methods, our approach has the advantages of transparency and accessibility to a broad range of analysts and policy makers.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series International Trade with number 0106004.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: 13 Jun 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpit:0106004
Note: Type of Document - PDF; pages: 21; figures: n/a. This paper was published in Methodologies for Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Trade Liberalization Agreements. Dale Andrews, ed. (Paris: OECD, 2000). It has been reprinted with permission. Other working papers available at
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  1. Gunnar A. Eskeland & Ann E. Harrison, 2002. "Moving to Greener Pastures? Multinationals and the Pollution Haven Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 8888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Frank Ackerman, 2001. "Still dead after all these years: interpreting the failure of general equilibrium theory," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 119-139.
  3. Timothy J. Bartik, 2002. "The Effects of Environmental Regulation on Business Location in the United States," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Wayne B. Gray (ed.), Economic Costs and Consequences of Environmental Regulation, pages 129-151 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  4. Timothy J. Bartik, 2002. "Small Business Start-Ups in the United States: Estimates of the Effects of Characteristics of States," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Norris F. Krueger (ed.), Entrepreneurship: Critical Perspectives on Business and Management, volume 0, pages 191-210 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  5. Dean, Judith M., 1992. "Trade and the environment : a survey of the literature," Policy Research Working Paper Series 966, The World Bank.
  6. Levinson, Arik, 1996. "Environmental regulations and manufacturers' location choices: Evidence from the Census of Manufactures," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1-2), pages 5-29, October.
  7. Revesz, Richard L. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Environmental Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
  8. 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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