دسترسی به اطلاعات، توزیع درآمد، و منحنی کوزنتس محیطی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|11281||2002||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Ecological Economics, Volume 41, Issue 1, April 2002, Pages 145–156
Recent empirical studies have tested the hypothesis of an Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) focusing primarily on the relationship between per capita income and certain types of pollutant emissions. Given the stock-nature of many pollution problems, emissions only partially account for the environmental impacts. Moreover, almost all of the studies have given consideration to little more than income levels as explanatory variables. This paper empirically tests the hypothesis of the EKC existence for a stock-sensitive indicator, that is, the percentage of protected area (PA) within national territory. It does theorize that economic growth is a necessary condition in order to better address environmental issues. But it also stresses that other variables (income distribution, education, information accessibility) may play a fundamental role in determining environmental quality. Contrary to other studies that mainly focus on the calculation of the income level corresponding to the transition point, this paper is more concerned with the calculation of environmental quality corresponding to that transition point, that is, the minimum level of environmental quality that a country is willing to accept. This paper highlights the idea that if the transition point is determined primarily by income level, social policies determine the level of environmental quality corresponding to that point.
Recently, many studies have found evidence of the existence of an inverted U-shaped relationship between environmental quality and per capita income level. Scholars in the field define this relationship as the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC). Data analysis seems to demonstrate that in the early stages of the economic growth process environmental quality falls, but then, as income exceeds a threshold level, environmental quality begins to rise. The reason why environmental quality increases when income becomes higher than a threshold level is still not completely clear.1 The idea that economic growth is ultimately beneficial for the environment has caused some authors to maintain that only economic growth is necessary, because the surest way to improve the environment is to become rich (Beckerman, 1992). This viewpoint implies that environmental problems are a temporary phenomenon since economic growth and technological innovation will resolve these problems in due time.2 Torras and Boyce (1998, p. 148) maintain that the same incautious policy inference that was drawn from the original Kuznets curve can also be derived from the so-called EKC. There is no reason to believe that the relationship linking income and environmental quality is automatic, and there is no evidence showing that economic growth is a perfect substitute for environmental policy (Arrow et al., 1995). There is certainly nothing inevitable about the relationship that has been observed in the past (Grossman and Krueger, 1995, pp. 371–372). This, together with the observation that the environmental performance varies among countries, makes it plausible to think that additional variables, other than income level, may influence the environmental performance of a country. Some recent studies show that economic and social policy may have a very important role in determining the emergence of the downward sloping part of the EKC (Panayotou, 1995, Grossman and Krueger, 1995 and Torras and Boyce, 1998). In this paper we test the existence of a U-shape relationship between per capita income and the percentage of protected area (PA) within national territory. The existing empirical work focuses on the relationship between income and emission of pollutants, which, due to the stock-nature of many environmental problems, does not fully account for environmental impacts (Rothman and de Bruyn, 1998, p. 144). The environmental quality of a specific site may turn out to be very low, due to both the cumulative effects of emissions and to the delayed effect of past accumulations of pollutants (Kaufmann and Cleveland, 1995 and Panayotou, 1995). Depending on geographic location and original atmospheric and environmental conditions, pollutant emissions may have very different environmental impacts. The same is true for natural resources (for example, a forest). Due to its depleting effects, a certain amount of consumption may be sustainable or unsustainable depending on the starting level of the stock of the natural resource. This paper also investigates possible causal linkages between inequality, literacy, information accessibility, and environmental quality. The hypothesis is that the more the development process is participated, i.e. the higher is the level of literacy, information access, and equality, the higher is the demand for environmental quality. Whereas other studies are mainly concerned with the calculation of the transition point, that is, the point at which the relationship between income and environmental quality changes from negative to positive, this paper is more concerned with the calculation of the environmental quality threshold level. This is the minimum level of environmental quality that a society is willing to accept before the relationship between income and environmental quality changes from negative to positive. The paper highlights the idea that while the transition point is determined primarily by income level, social policies determine the level of environmental quality corresponding to that point. The hypotheses is tested using cross-section data from a sample of European countries for which data are available (see the table in Appendix A). This permits the consideration of a more homogeneous set of countries, both from an economic and a morphological-natural point of view. Economic homogeneity allows us to separate the supposed juxtaposition of the two different relationships that developing and developed countries follow (Vincent, 1997). Natural homogeneity is required because, as the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) has indicated, national parks have completely different goals and extents, depending on the population density and the continent in which the country is located. Data show that in the tropical developing regions of Africa and South America, and in North Africa/the Middle East and North Eurasia, fewer, but larger, PAs tend to be found; whereas large PAs are obviously much more limited in the islands of the Pacific and in Europe, with its much earlier history of industrial development (Green and Paine, 1997). Although some studies have evidenced that empirical results depend greatly on the type of analysis used (i.e. cross-country or time series), in this paper cross-countries analysis may usefully be used. In fact, being a ‘stock-sensitive’ variable, the percentage of PA records all the past historical processes. Moreover, growth rate of the variable does not make sense: year-to-year variations would likely be quite small, with many zeros. The establishment of parks is a process that takes time, and their legal creation occurs slowly.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Recently, many empirical studies have questioned the determinism underlying the EKC. The tendency of countries to follow a U-shaped growth path should not be viewed as evidence supporting the idea that economic growth is a perfect substitute for environmental policy. As the scattered figure that some developed countries show, it cannot be assumed that the market is able to automatically solve environmental problem. Moreover, the cumulative effect of pollution and the time needed by some countries to raise their income enough to have an impact on environmental quality (in our case the protection elasticity becomes zero at an income level between $4300 and $10,800) suggests that we should not rely upon the income variable alone. The analysis carried out above shows that, as for the environmental policy approximated here by the percentage of PAs, the EKC hypothesis is not rejected, although, according to the standard assumptions, we would have expected a continuously growing curve. But it also shows that, using the traditional EKC, a problem of omitted variables exists. Therefore, the paper invites a reconsideration of the role played by political and social policies. As it has been highlighted, environmental quality may be quite different depending on the degree of participation, as defined in this paper, a country allows. We may have growth without participation and growth with different levels of participation. As shown, participation determines the minimum level of environmental quality a society is willing to accept, that is, the threshold level where externalities change from Pareto-irrelevant to -relevant. Participation influences the marginal rate of substitution between consumption goods and environmental goods since individual satisfaction depends on relative social status rather than on absolute income level, on the information one has about a specific good, and on the type of good (necessary or not in A. Smith meaning) consumed. This means that countries at the same level of development may face very different levels of environmental quality. The main findings of this paper seem to contradict the idea that only growth matters and no room is left for policy. On the contrary, the paper maintains that the only way to make development sustainable is to increase the level of participation. Our findings show that the role of participation may be much more important the more an ecological threshold, below which damages become irreversible, exists. In fact, if a threshold is violated, the environmental degradation becomes irreversible, or it could take an enormous period of time and an infinite cost to be restored at a later stage. As a result, the turning point of the EKC would disappear or at least move further. Therefore, to make development sustainable one needs to involve people in the growth process. In other words, development has to be of the inclusive form, expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy,12 because only participation makes social preferences shift away from private toward public goods. Today there is a growing consensus on the fact that an improvement of income distribution, education, and information access are necessary conditions for sustainability, as shown also by the guiding principles of Agenda 21. However, although there is no simple, straightforward solution to the question of how environment and socio-economic aspects are interrelated, we believe that a better understanding of the nature of these interactions is a precondition for every policy prescription.