The Effects of Environmental Regulation on the Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturing

52 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2012 Last revised: 4 Apr 2021

See all articles by Michael Greenstone

Michael Greenstone

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; Becker Friedman Institute for Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Chad Syverson

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2012

Abstract

The economic costs of environmental regulations have been widely debated since the U.S. began to restrict pollution emissions more than four decades ago. Using detailed production data from nearly 1.2 million plant observations drawn from the 1972-1993 Annual Survey of Manufactures, we estimate the effects of air quality regulations on manufacturing plants' total factor productivity (TFP) levels. We find that among surviving polluting plants, stricter air quality regulations are associated with a roughly 2.6 percent decline in TFP. The regulations governing ozone have particularly large negative effects on productivity, though effects are also evident among particulates and sulfur dioxide emitters. Carbon monoxide regulations, on the other hand, appear to increase measured TFP, especially among refineries. The application of corrections for the confounding of price increases and output declines and sample selection on survival produce a 4.8 percent estimated decline in TFP for polluting plants in regulated areas. This corresponds to an annual economic cost from the regulation of manufacturing plants of roughly $21 billion, about 8.8 percent of manufacturing sector profits in this period.

Suggested Citation

Greenstone, Michael and List, John A. and Syverson, Chad, The Effects of Environmental Regulation on the Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturing (September 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w18392, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2147102

Michael Greenstone (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
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Becker Friedman Institute for Economics ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Chad Syverson

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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