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Recently, there has been significant research interest in the empirical formulations of the environment-income relationship using both global and disaggregated data. Advances in methods and availability of better and more extensive data make the old topic of growth and environment a unique field for Environment and Development Economics, among other journals. Conventionally, the environmental Kuznets curve has been important in testing for emissions of many pollutants in many different countries. Now, policy and institutional data including transparency variables are available, making many social and economic factors interesting for policy analysts. In light of these advances, and the existing associated empirical problems in analyzing the income-environment relationship, the key findings of each paper in this special issue are discussed and connected to the related areas of research interest.
Village democratization in rural China is found to have profound impacts on many socio-economic aspects, but little is understood as to how welfare impacts may occur through farmers' principal production activities. This study helps to fill this gap by investigating how village democracy affects rural household welfare through these channels, using a unique household survey. The authors first establish a theoretical framework that links democracy to household welfare through changes in production efficiency. Focusing on both agricultural and forest production, they then implement empirical estimation using stochastic production frontier techniques with careful consideration of household heterogeneity in technical efficiency. They find that higher levels of village democracy significantly increase farmers' production efficiency, thereby improving their welfare. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first study on the impacts of democracy on producer welfare using micro-level data.
In the December 2014 issue of Environment and Development Economics, we published the article, ‘The economic power of the Golden Rice opposition’ by Wesseler and Zilberman. The paper generated substantial interest, not only in academia but also among civil society groups. In this note, we address some of the concerns that have been raised about our results. Our main conclusion remains that misguided regulations in the case of Golden Rice have cost millions of healthy life years and billions of dollars.
This paper investigates the relationship between land concentration and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. It develops a conceptual framework in which an individual may have three alternatives: to be a farmer in an already established place, to be a rural worker, or to migrate to the agricultural frontier in order to deforest. This model implies that land inequality affects deforestation positively. Based on data from municipalities with positive deforestation from 2002 to 2011, a model has been estimated to test this theoretical prediction. By making use of an instrumental variable, results show that there is statistical evidence to support the existence of a direct relationship between land inequality and deforestation. Results are stronger for the period 2002–2005. This might be due to command and control policies which have significantly increased the cost of clearing land since the mid-2000s.
The authors examine whether high personal discount rates help explain why and which households in developing countries under-invest in seemingly low-cost options to avert environmental health threats, including bednets, clean cooking fuels, individual household latrines, water treatment and handwashing. First, the authors elicit personal discount rates by combining a simple randomized experiment with detailed surveys of over 10,000 rural households in Maharashtra, India. Personal discount rates are lower for women, for better-off households, and for households who can access formal credit. Secondly, they show that the discount rate is negatively related to a suite of behaviors that mitigate environmental health threats, from very low-cost steps like washing hands to more significant investments like household latrines, even after controlling for socio-economic status, access to credit, public infrastructure and services, and relevant beliefs.
Universal access to modern energy services, in terms of access to electricity and to modern cooking facilities, has been recognized as a fundamental challenge for development. Despite strong praise for action and the deployment of large-scale electrification programs and improved cookstove (ICS) distribution campaigns, few studies have shed light on the barriers to, the enablers of and the impacts of access to energy on development outcomes, using rigorous methodologies. This paper reviews this recent strand of research, trying to fill these gaps. The authors focus on the demand-side and household perspective. Their main outcomes of interest are electricity connection and ICS adoption for the analysis of barriers, time allocation, labor market outcomes and welfare for the impact analysis. They provide evidence of significant wellbeing impacts of electrification and mixed evidence for cookstoves.
This paper empirically investigates the effect of energy use on economic growth throughout different stages of development. Along with direct effects, energy is allowed to influence income growth indirectly by capital accumulation through input substitution. We find that energy use affects economic growth primarily through the capital channel and that this result varies substantially with regard to the country's income level. For middle-income countries including the quintet of large emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – an increase in energy use drives capital accumulation, which favors economic growth. On the contrary, for high-income countries, a higher energy input tends to withdraw productive resources from capital accumulation, harming economic growth. Considering these differences, policy measures aiming at restricting energy consumption should be evaluated against the background of a region's stage of economic development.
The Fifth IPCC Assessment Report estimates the world's ‘carbon budget’, which is the cumulative amount of anthropogenic CO2 emissions limiting global warming below 2°C. We model this carbon budget as a resource asset depleted by annual GHG emissions, and estimate the user cost associated with depletion. For constant emissions, social welfare increases US$3.3 trillion (6 per cent of global GDP) over the business as usual scenario of growing emissions, and the carbon budget's lifetime increases from 18 to 21 years. For declining emissions, the gain is US$10.4 trillion (19 per cent of global GDP), and the budget's lifetime is 30 years. Extending indefinitely the lifetime of the carbon budget would require emissions to fall exponentially by 4.8 per cent or more. Although the Paris Agreement abatement pledges will generate social gains of US$2–2.5 trillion (4–5 per cent of world GDP), they are insufficient to prevent depletion of the 2°C global carbon budget by 2030.
The authors use dynamic lab-in-the-field common pool resource experiments to investigate the role of two forms of democracy on the cooperation of forest users in Ethiopia. In this experimental setup, participants can either directly select a rule (direct democracy) or elect a leader who decides on the introduction of rules (representative democracy). These two treatments are compared with the imposition of rules and imposition of leaders. It is found that both endogenous leaders elected by the community members and endogenous rules selected by the direct involvement of the participants are more effective in promoting cooperation among the community members compared to exogenous leadership, exogenous rule imposition and the baseline scenario without any of these modifications. However, no significant difference is found between representative democracy in the election of leadership and direct democracy in the selection of rules. Leadership characteristics and behavior are further analyzed. The results underline the importance of democratic procedures.
Estimating the potential impacts of climate change requires understanding the ability of agents to adapt to changes in their climate. This paper uses panel data from India spanning from 1956 to 1999 to investigate the ability of farmers to adapt. To identify adaptation, the author exploits persistent, multidecadal monsoon regimes during which droughts or floods are more common. These regimes generate medium-run variation in average rainfall, and there is spatial variation in the timing of the regimes. Using a fixed-effects strategy, she tests whether farmers have adapted to the medium-run rainfall variation induced by the monsoon regimes. The author finds evidence that farmers adjust their irrigation investments and their crop portfolios in response to the medium-run rainfall variation. However, adaptation only recovers a small fraction of the profits farmers have lost due to adverse climate variation.
This study estimates the benefits from adopting Bt cotton seeds in Punjab, Pakistan over two cropping seasons - 2008 and 2009. The study uses the panel modeling approach to determine the average effects of Bt cotton technology on short-run profits, yields and farm inputs. This approach controls for biases resulting from self-selection and endogenous farm inputs. The study shows that, on average, Bt adopting farmers receive 9 per cent higher yields per hectare (ha), reduce per-ha pesticide use by 21.7 per cent, and increase per-ha use of irrigation water by 6 per cent. Our estimates of the increase in cotton yield are far below estimates from previous studies conducted in Pakistan and India, which do not use panel methods. Allowing more Bt cotton varieties and ensuring the availability of quality Bt cotton seeds in the market is likely to lead to further increase in the private benefits from Bt cotton.
How do people learn from disasters? Do they constantly develop and accumulate new knowledge that enables them to address recurrent disaster risks? This paper investigates whether social learning and, in particular, the development of earthquake-mitigating technologies reduces earthquake-induced fatalities. Combining patent data with a global cross-section of 894 earthquakes that occurred between 1980 and 2010, we find that countries with more disaster-mitigating innovations and more earthquake exposure in the past suffer fewer fatalities. This study is the first to empirically examine the role of technological change and social learning in disaster mitigation. It sheds light on knowledge as a key element of adaptive capacity, and suggests the importance of incorporating technology development into a long-term hazard mitigation and adaptation policy. The paper also contributes to the empirical disaster literature as the first to address the problem of missing data on disaster losses.
This paper investigates the effectiveness of different market-based instruments (MBIs), such as eco-certification premiums, carbon payments, Pigovian taxes and their combination, to address the conversion of agroforests to monoculture systems and subsequent effects on incomes of risk-averse farmers under income uncertainty in Indonesia. For these, the authors develop a farm-level dynamic mean-variance model combined with a real options approach. Findings show that the conservation of agroforest is responsive to the risk-aversion level of farmers: the greater the level of risk aversion, the greater is the conserved area of agroforest. However, for all risk-averse farmers, additional incentives in the form of MBIs are still needed to prevent conversion of agroforest over the years, and only the combination of MBIs can achieve this target. Implementing fixed MBIs also contributes to stabilizing farmers’ incomes and reducing income risks. Consequently, the combined MBIs increase incomes and reduce income inequality between hardly and extremely risk-averse farmers.
Comprehensive Investment (CI) may provide an indicator of future changes in a country's per capita consumption. The authors explore the utility of the CI indicator for Australia by constructing CI data since 1861 and by estimating their relationship with changes in future consumption over periods of 50 years ahead. The CI measures include changes in natural, produced and human capital, and make allowance for exogenous technological progress. The results are used to consider how Australia's natural capital exploitation influenced the consumption of future generations. Further, the authors gauge if low CI relative to other leading OECD countries resulted in lower consumption levels in Australia over time than feasible, had it saved more.
In this paper we compare two policy instruments that can be adopted to curb carbon emissions. The first is a conventional pollution tax, the second is an environmental campaign raising consumers’ awareness about the relative impact of their consumption choices. The comparison is carried out in two different scenarios, depending on whether consumers’ aprioristic preferences are such that they value the environmental attribute of a product (environmental quality) or its pure performance (hedonic quality) . In the case of environmental quality, the campaign is preferred under some specific conditions based on consumer heterogeneity, cost-effective analysis, and pollution level. On the contrary, the pollution tax is always preferred in the case of hedonic quality. Therefore, we show that the relative efficiency of the two policy instruments crucially depends on consumers’ initial concern for the environment, which may vary across countries due to socio-economic conditions.
This study estimates Indonesian households’ carbon emissions that are attributed to their expenditures in 2005 and 2009 to analyze the pattern, distribution and drivers of their carbon footprint. Employing an input-output-emission-expenditure framework, the authors find a significant difference in household carbon emissions between different affluence levels, regions and educational levels. They also find that, while many household characteristics influence emissions, total expenditure is by far the most important determinant of household emissions, both across households and over time. Consequently, emissions inequality is very similar to expenditure inequality across households. The decomposition analysis confirms that changes in emissions are predominantly due to rising expenditures between the two periods, while expenditure elasticities analysis suggests that the rise in household emissions is mainly caused by the overall rise in total household expenditure, and not by shifting consumption shares among consumption categories. The paper discusses policy options for Indonesia to reduce this very strong expenditure–emissions link.
Using eight rounds of household survey data that span two decades, this paper analyzes the determinants of household fuel choice in urban China. Using the correlated random effects generalized ordered probit model, the authors find that household fuel choice in urban China is related to fuel prices, households’ economic status and size and household head's gender and education. The results suggest that policies and interventions that increase households’ income, reduce the price advantage of dirty fuels (e.g., taxing coal) and empower women in the household are of great significance in encouraging the use of clean energy sources.
This study examines whether voting by individuals of different income levels affects the stringency of environmental policy if their residential proximity to a pollution source is considered. A location model with heterogeneous agents is extended to include a single environmentally hazardous site at the edge of a linear city and the degree of damage from pollution is assumed to depend on the distance from this emissions site. The analysis demonstrates through majority voting that the equilibrium emissions tax rate is higher when the income level of the median voter is lower, because residents with low incomes reside near the hazardous site and thus benefit more from pollution abatement than residents with higher incomes.
Stated preference approaches, such as contingent valuation, focus mainly on the estimation of the mean or median willingness to pay (WTP) for an environmental good. Nevertheless, these two welfare measures may not be appropriate when there are social and political concerns associated with implementing a payment for environmental services (PES) scheme. In this paper the authors used a Bayesian estimation approach to estimate a quantile binary regression and the WTP distribution in the context of a contingent valuation PES application. Our results show that the use of other quantiles framed in the supermajority concept provides a reasonable interpretation of the technical nonmarket valuation studies in the PES area. We found that the values of the mean WTP are 10–37 times higher than the value that would support a supermajority of 70 per cent of the population.
The authors develop a simple analytical framework to study the welfare-maximizing environmental standards when market entry is endogenous and firms can circumvent regulation by bribing corrupt officials. Corruption changes the tradeoff in environmental policy. Corruption leads more polluting firms to enter into the market, which requires tighter environmental regulation. However, corruption also makes trading in some environmental protection for a marginally higher market entry optimal for the government.