An Environmental Kuznets Curve? Why does environmental quality improve as countries become richer? Eric Posner of the Volokh Conspiracy provides this answer:
"I can see only two possible explanations for the EKC. The first is the one I provided in my earlier post: that as people become wealthier, they become more willing to pay for regulation that reduces pollution. (Wealthier people may also be able to demand and secure better governmental institutions that will reliably translate their preferences into outcomes.) The second is that, given our system of incomplete property rights that fails to internalize all positive and negative externalities, it is not surprising that technological change sometimes has positive effects on the environment (a new technology exploits inputs more efficiently, benefiting both the user who needs to pay for fewer inputs and third parties who suffer from less pollution), and sometimes has negative effects on the environment (a new technology benefits a user because it results in more waste being externalized on other parties)."
posted April 28, 2009 9:45 a.m.