Friday, July 2, 2010

Multiple equilibria in environmental policy

Why do some countries, in particular developed one, engage more in environmental protection than others? The traditional answer is that higher incomes and long life expectancy allows people to value more their surroundings and the future. However, rich people or countries may engage in alleviating the consequences of a poor environment instead of contributing to a better one. For example, similarly rich countries have very different track records. Thus there must be something else that distinguishes them.

Natacha Raffin builds on the evidence that US states where higher proportion of the population holds a high school degree also are more environmentally aware, even after controlling for income. In other words education matters. But education policy is endogenous, and one needs to determine what makes a state choose to educate more its citizens on environmental issues. Say you expect poor environmental conditions, and thus shorter life expectancy. Then it is less worth investing in human capital, and the circle is complete. And the beliefs are more positive, they are also self-fulfilling. We thus have multiple equilibria. This can also explain the frustration that pro- and anti-green camps have with each other.

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haddenkelvin said...
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