300 North Washington Street
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Institutional Affiliation: Georgetown University
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|January 2015||Environmental Engel Curves|
with Arik Levinson: w20914
Environmental Engel curves (EECs) plot the relationship between households’ incomes and the pollution embodied in the goods and services they consume. They provide a basis for estimating the degree to which observed environmental improvements, which come in part from changing consumption patterns, can be attributed to income growth. We calculate a set of annual EECs for the United States from 1984 to 2002, revealing three clear results. First, EECs are upward sloping: richer households are indirectly responsible for more pollution. Second, EECs are convex, with income elasticities of less than one. Third, EECs have been shifting down over time: at every level of income households are responsible for decreasing amounts of pollution. We show that even without changes to production techniques...