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Democracy, inequality and the environment when citizens can mitigate health consequences of pollution privately or act collectively

Sophie Bernard (), Louis Hotte () and Stanley Winer ()

European Journal of Political Economy, 2014, vol. 34, issue C, 142-156

Abstract: We study the political economy of the environment in autocratic, weak and strong democracies when individuals can mitigate the health consequences of domestic pollution privately as well as control pollution collectively through public policies. We consider a small open economy with comparative advantage in dirty goods. With costly private mitigation, income inequality leads to an unequal distribution of the burdens of pollution (in accordance with the evidence). We show that the eco-friendliness ranking of political regime types varies with the cost of private mitigation and that increased inequality has non-monotonous effects on equilibrium pollution levels. In weak democracies, the political equilibrium may be characterized by low environmental standards but highly restricted trade, thus leading to ambiguous outcomes regarding pollution levels.

Keywords: Domestic pollution; Environmental regulation; Private mitigation; Trade; Income inequality; Strong and weak democracy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C7 D7 F18 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2014.01.006

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Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:34:y:2014:i:c:p:142-156