Environmental Regulation, Comparative Advantage and the Porter Hypothesis

34 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 1998

Date Written: September 1998


Empirical surveys find no significant impact of environmental regulation and environmental costs on international competitiveness. In the literature, we can find three hypotheses on the impact of environmental regulation. For the industrial-flight and pollution-haven hypothesis, there is no clear empirical evidence. We show that this is a logical consequence of the principle of comparative advantage. Another explanation can be that developed countries have very diversified exports and most surveys do not link regulation to specific products. We therefore investigate the link between export diversification and two measures of labor productivity. The Porter hypothesis--the third or revisionist hypothesis in our overview--states that environmental regulation can lead to improved competitiveness. Many authors only find "anecdotal" evidence for this hypothesis, but we show that when regulation is linked to specific products, there is clear evidence for the Porter hypothesis. In our model, we work with international CFC-regulation (chlorofluorocarbons) and the export performance of CFC-using industries like refrigerators, freezers and air conditioning machines. A final section does focus on the tradition of cartelization that has been typical in many of the old--and "dirty"--industries.

JEL Classification: F14, F21, L52, O32, Q28

Suggested Citation

Albrecht, Johan A. E., Environmental Regulation, Comparative Advantage and the Porter Hypothesis (September 1998). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=135608 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.135608

Johan A. E. Albrecht (Contact Author)

University of Ghent-CEEM ( email )

Hoveniersberg 24
Center for Environmental Economics and Environment
9000 Ghent
+32 9 264 35 10 (Phone)
+32 9 264 35 99 (Fax)

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