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The economic consequences of environmental regulation in China: From a perspective of the environmental protection admonishing talk policy

Zhihua Tian, Yanfang Tian, Yang Chen and Shuai Shao

Business Strategy and the Environment, 2020, vol. 29, issue 4, 1723-1733

Abstract: Environmental regulation may lead to undesired economic consequences. China has tightened its environmental policies to deal with severe environmental pollution in recent years, but existing studies pay little attention to the economic consequences of China's environmental policies. Using the panel data of 211 prefecture‐level and above cities in China from 2003 to 2016, we for the first time estimate the economic impact of the environmental protection admonishing talk (EPAT) policy, a newly implemented environmental regulation policy in China. We use the difference‐in‐differences strategy to identify the economic effects of the EPAT policy combined with the propensity score matching method to control a potential selection problem. The results show that a relative decline occurs in gross domestic product per capita in target cities after the implementation of the EPAT, and the negative impact is exerted on the secondary industry rather than the tertiary industry. Furthermore, we find that target cities respond to the environmental protection requirements of higher authorities through a one‐size‐fits‐all approach of limiting the production activities of industrial enterprises. Meanwhile, the EPAT policy does not improve environmental efficiency. Such findings are instructive for policymakers who need to trade off economic welfare and environmental quality when formulating and implementing new environmental policies.

Date: 2020
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