Sulphur emissions and productivity growth in industrialised countries
In this paper, we examine the relationship between economic and environmental performance. More specifically, we analyse the impact of SO2 reduction in the eighties (1980-1992) on productivity growth, technical efficiency and technological progress for a set of 12 OECD countries. Our timeframe roughly corresponds to the adoption and implementation of the First Sulphur Protocol signed in 1985. First, we estimate an output based Malmquist productivity index using distance functions derived from successive DEA (Data Envelopment Analysis) frontiers. This index is decomposed in two components namely technical and efficiency change. Second, we regress the change in productivity and its two components on a set of explanatory variables including annual variations in SO2 emissions. The results indicate that reductions in SO2 do not seem to have had a significant impact on productivity growth. The decomposition into efficiency and technology changes suggests that two countervailing effects may explain this result. On one hand, SO2 cutbacks adversely affect efficiency but on the other hand, they stimulate technical change. Copyright CIRIEC, 2005.
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