Are autocracies bad for the environment? Global evidence from two centuries of data

Vol: 
24/2021
Author name: 
Sinha A
Sedai AK
Kumar A
Nepal R
Year: 
2021
Month: 
February
Abstract: 

This study examines the effects of the rule of law on carbon-dioxide emissions using a large sample of countries for over a century. In principle, the turning point of the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) is compared for a range of countries lying between autocracy and democracy. Using decadal data for 220 years (1790-2010) and 150 countries, we use country fixed effects estimation technique to quantify the absolute and interactive effects of autocracy-democracy index on carbon-dioxide emissions. Results show that democracies emit less carbon-dioxide for one unit increase in per-capita income, leading to lower turning point and thus lower emission. The turning point in case of autocracies are more than twice of the turning point for democracies. Electoral autocracies have lower turning point in comparison to closed autocracies. Point estimates are robust to alternative estimation techniques and are not likely to be influenced by omitted variable biases. Strengthening rule enforcement and improving access to justice can be critical in decreasing carbon-dioxide emissions.

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