Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 August 2020
Having enterprises engaged in environmentally friendly behavior is an important part of reducing negative environmental impacts. This study makes a quantitative analysis against the backdrop of China's transitional economic system. The results show that politically-connected enterprises significantly reduce environmental expenditure, but this only holds for state-owned enterprises; private enterprises with political connections spend significantly more. Analysis of the efficiency of environmental expenditure indicates that, for private enterprises, environmental spending is used as a way to maintain political connections, with rent-seeking as the likely motivation. Politically-connected private enterprises have not reduced their emissions to the same extent as state-owned enterprises, despite increased expenditure. Given the scale of environmental degradation in China during a period of massive economic and social upheaval, the results of this analysis provide a quantitative case for policy change: governments should shift focus to the results that environmental spending produces.