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Environmental (de)centralization and local environmental governance: Evidence from a natural experiment in China

Gao Chen, Jian Xu and Yu Qi

China Economic Review, 2022, vol. 72, issue C

Abstract: It is of great importance for government to design effective incentive mechanisms in environmental governance. This paper investigates the causal effects of environmental (de)centralization on local governments' environmental governance. Based on stragged establishments timing of regional Supervision Centers for Environmental Protection (SCEPs) in China, we introduce a unique government administrative dataset on firm pollution in order to conduct gradual intensity difference-in-differences estimations. We present strong evidence that establishing the SCEPs significantly prompt firms to reduce emission pollution. Since the establishment of the SCEPs brings more effective information collection and supervision, promoting local firms reduce pollutant generation and increase investment in pollution control. Moreover, the SCEPs could coordinate adjacent provinces' incentives on reducing firms' emissions around provincial boundaries. Besides, this study provides clear policy implications that when fiscal decentralization carries the risk of aggravating environmental pollution, vertical management structures in environmental governance could effectively strengthen incentives and coordination.

Keywords: Environmental decentralization; The SCEPs; Incentive effect; Coordination effect; China (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2022.101755

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China Economic Review is currently edited by B.M. Fleisher, K. X. D. Huang, M.E. Lovely, Y. Wen, X. Zhang and X. Zhu

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