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Is enterprise environmental protection investment responsibility or rent-seeking? Chinese evidence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 August 2020

Xin-Feng Jiang
College of Economics and Management, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, China
Chun-Xiang Zhao
School of Accounting, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan, China
Jing-Juan Ma
School of Accounting, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan, China
Jian-Qiu Liu
School of Accounting, Hunan University of Technology and Business, Hunan, China
Si-Hai Li*
School of Accounting, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail:


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.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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