Political Determinants of Environmental Quality

Posted: 24 Feb 2006 Last revised: 28 Jun 2014

See all articles by Thomas Bernauer

Thomas Bernauer

ETH Zurich

Vally Koubi

University of Bern - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 1, 2006


This SSRN paper is a draft version of a paper that is now published in Ecological Economics. Please consult the published version and cite as:

Bernauer, Thomas, Koubi, Vally. 2009. Effects of Political Institutions on Air Quality. Ecological Economics 68/5:1355-1365.

We empirically test existing theories on the provision of public goods, in particular environmental quality, using data on sulfur dioxide (SO2) concentrations from the Global Environment Monitoring Projects for 107 cities in 42 countries from 1971 to 1996. The results are as follows: First, we provide additional support for the claim that the degree of democracy has an independent positive effect on environmental quality. Second, we find that presidential systems are more conducive to environmental quality than parliamentary ones. Third, in testing competing claims about the effect of interest groups on public goods provision in democracies we establish that labor union strength contributes to lower environmental quality, whereas the strength of green parties has the opposite effect. We also document that civil freedoms, which we interpret as a proxy for aggregate interest group influence, contribute to a cleaner environment. This suggests that pro-environmental interest groups have been more effective in using such freedoms to promote their objectives than other groups that do not support stricter environmental regulation.

Keywords: Democracy, presidential and parliamentary systems, interest groups, civil liberties, pollution, environment, sulfur dioxide

Suggested Citation

Bernauer, Thomas and Koubi, Vally, Political Determinants of Environmental Quality (January 1, 2006). Ecological Economics, Vol. 68, No. 5, pp. 1355-1365, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=882812

Thomas Bernauer (Contact Author)

ETH Zurich ( email )

Center for Comparative and International Studies
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Zurich 8092, 8092
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HOME PAGE: http://www.ib.ethz.ch

Vally Koubi

University of Bern - Department of Economics ( email )

Schanzeneckstrasse 1
Bern, CH-3001

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