The Local Environmental Kuznets Curve: Civil Society Linkages between Economic Growth and Environmental Protection
34 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2013
An intriguing puzzle concerning urban environments is whether or not cities are characterized by a Kuznets Curve. Based on theorizing about the economic development of countries, our conjecture is this: can we assume that after cities reach a level of economic prosperity that they place greater emphasis on quality of life issues and, conversely, less emphasis on economic development? If so, wealthier cities should prioritize sustainability efforts — those programs and policies designed to mitigate environmental degradation. We examine this proposition here but move beyond a simple relationship between city income and effort toward environmental protection. Rather, we hypothesize that any such relationship is conditioned by a city’s level of environmental advocacy. The data utilized in this analysis are derived from two large-scale databases. One is a comprehensive inventory of sustainability programs and policies in fifty large American cities. The other is a set of surveys in those same 50 cities. Our multivariate model supports our hypothesis. Controlling for income growth, a city’s commitment to sustainability is strongly linked to environmentalists’ presence in the policymaking process.
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