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The environmental Kuznets curve and satiation: a simple static model

  • Ecology
  • Geography


The environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) is a hypothesis stating that pollution rises with income at low income levels but falls at higher ones. We analyse the EKC in a representative consumer model in which pollution is generated by consumption and can be abated. We show that at low income levels no abatement is optimal and pollution increases with income. Once abatement expenditures are positive, we demonstrate that satiation in consumption is not only sufficient to find an EKC, but a tendency to satiation or in other words the condition that environmental quality is a normal good is even necessary if we assume a standard functional form for the pollution function. Finally, we reconsider the results of two related models of the literature: We verify that the relationship between the income elasticity of demand for environmental quality and the EKC is ambiguous.(JEL: D62, O40, Q20)

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