The Effect of Competition on Toxic Pollution Releases
30 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2014 Last revised: 12 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 1, 2015
We examine how competition affects toxic industrial releases, using five years of data from thousands of facilities across hundreds of industries. Our main result indicates that competition reduces toxic releases at the facility level. On average, each percentage-point reduction in the Herfindahl Index (HHI) results in a nearly two-percent reduction in a facility’s toxic releases. At the same time, we find no evidence that competition increases aggregate pollution. Further analysis sheds some light on the mechanisms through which firms reduce pollution releases due to increased competition. In particular, we find suggestive evidence that this relationship is due to both reduced output and increases in abatement. We find no evidence that our result is driven by: consumer aversion to pollution, regulations changing with competition, or technologies introduced by new firms. Taken together, our results indicate that competition may be good, at least for public health in areas near polluting facilities, and fail to provide support for the hypothesis that competition leads to more socially undesirable behavior.
Keywords: Competition, Pollution, Toxic Releases Inventory
JEL Classification: M14, Q25
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation