Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 23, pp 23170–23194 | Cite as

Is skewed income distribution good for environmental quality? A comparative analysis among selected BRICS countries

  • Mantu Kumar MahalikEmail author
  • Hrushikesh Mallick
  • Hemachandra Padhan
  • Bhagaban Sahoo
Research Article


A large number of studies have examined the linkage between income inequality and environmental quality at the individual country levels. This study attempts to examine the linkage between the two factors for the individual BRICS economies from a comparative perspective, which is scarce in the literature. It examines the selected countries (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) by endogenising the patterns of primary energy consumption (coal use and petroleum use), total primary energy consumption, economic growth, and urbanisation as key determining factors in CO2 emission function. The long-run results based on ARDL bounds testing revealed that income inequality leads to increase in CO2 emissions for Brazil, India and China, while the same factor leads to reduction in CO2 emissions for South Africa. However, it observes that while coal use increases CO2 emissions for India, China and South Africa, it has no effect for Brazil. In contrast, the use of petroleum products contributes to CO2 emissions in Brazil, while the use of the same surprisingly results in reduction of carbon emissions in South Africa, India and China. The findings suggest that given the significance of income inequality in environmental pollution, the policy makers in these emerging economies have to take into consideration the role of income inequality, while designing the energy policy to achieve environmental sustainability.


Income inequality Pattern of energy use CO2 emissions Urbanisation Growth BRICS 

JEL classification

Q54 C12 R51 & O47 



We acknowledge the comments received from the conference participants and paper panellists in the 1st International Conference on “Energy, Finance and the Macroeconomy (ICEFM)” during 22–24 November 2017, held at Montpellier Business School, France. We also acknowledge the comments received from the workshop participants and paper panellists on “Multi-scale Climate Governance in India: Understanding the Challenges and Opportunities” during 18–19 January 2018, held at TERI School of Advanced Studies, New Delhi. We would also like to thank the editor and three anonymous referees for constructive and useful comments.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_2401_MOESM1_ESM.docx (41 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 40 kb)
11356_2018_2401_MOESM2_ESM.docx (14 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 14 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesIndian Institute of Technology (IIT) KharagpurMedinipurIndia
  2. 2.Centre for Development Studies (CDS)TrivandrumIndia
  3. 3.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesNational Institute of Technology (NIT), RourkelaSundargarhIndia
  4. 4.Anandapur College, AnandapurKeonjharIndia

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