Pollution and Development: Lessons from the Latin American and East Asian Newly Industrializing Economies
What is known about the relationship between pollution and economic development? There is some empirical evidence that the level of development, as measured by income per capita, can account for much of the variation in pollution levels. For example, some cases illustrate a declining relationship between income and total suspended particulates (TSP), a pollutant that significantly harms human health, for a number of Latin American and East Asian countries. In these cases, higher income appears unambiguously to lead to a better environment. In other cases, pollution has been found to rise with income and then fall, taking an inverted U shape most often referred to as an environmental Kuznets curve, implying that the environment gets worse as income rises and then gets better.
Relationships such as these suggest to some observers that the best way to take care of the environment is to take care of growth. But this conclusion is incomplete and unsatisfying. To begin with, these relationships are more or less a black box. They do not tell either why governments and private actors acted to reduce pollution/emissions or how they did so.
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