Domestic Pollution Havens: Evidence from Cancer Deaths in Border Counties

34 Pages Posted: 27 May 2003

See all articles by Matthew E. Kahn

Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)


Despite the concerns of many environmentalists, there is little evidence that global trade has led to the growth of pollution havens in poorer nations. Domestic pollution havens are a substitute for international pollution havens. Domestic pollution havens are likely to arise because environmental and labor regulations are not uniformly imposed across the United States. Using a new panel data set on county cancer death rates, this paper documents that cancer death rates have grown at specific state borders that have not imposed stringent labor regulation while cancer rates are falling at the Mexico border and are rising at the Canadian border.

Keywords: Cancer, Pollution Havens, Regulation, International Trade

JEL Classification: R0, F1, I1

Suggested Citation

Kahn, Matthew E., Domestic Pollution Havens: Evidence from Cancer Deaths in Border Counties. Available at SSRN: or

Matthew E. Kahn (Contact Author)

University of Southern California ( email )

2250 Alcazar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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