Eco-Labeling and Stages of Development
20 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2003
The paper examines the effectiveness of eco-labeling in providing a market-based solution to the under-consumption of eco-friendly products in developing and developed countries. The authors show that whether labeling is an effective device in solving the problem of asymmetric information between sellers and buyers, or whether false labeling severs the link between willingness to pay and environmental conscious production choices, depends crucially on how monitoring intensities respond endogenously to economic growth, openness to trade, and technology transfers. In particular, by accounting for endogenous policy responses to economic growth, it is shown that an inverted-U relationship exists between consumer spending on eco-unfriendly products and national income. In addition, while international trade unambiguously benefits the environment in the presence of eco-labeling with perfect enforcement, trade openness may nevertheless delay the turning point of the growth and environment relationship, when the cost of enforcement falls disproportionately on developing countries, and when environmental policies are employed to reap terms-of-trade gains.
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