Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 445–457 | Cite as

Economic development, institutions, and biodiversity loss at the global scale

  • Ing-Marie GrenEmail author
  • Monica Campos
  • Lena Gustafsson
Original Article


Current accelerating biodiversity loss is by many conservationists regarded as a result of economic development. Some economists agree on this viewpoint but argue it is valid at low income levels because of the need to secure a minimum living standard. On the other hand, economic development at higher income levels can instead mitigate biodiversity loss because of improved willingness and affordability to implement measures such as protected areas. This so-called environmental Kuznets relation is tested in this study by econometric analysis of cross-sectional data on a global scale. However, the results do not support this relation. Instead, we found a relation between economic and institutional development where economic development decreases biodiversity loss at a minimum level of institutional quality, i.e. minimum capacity to implement and secure property rights for the citizens. Our results thus question policies that neglect institutional quality for reversing biodiversity loss. Further, it was found that biodiversity loss increases with invasive species, high average temperature and precipitation, and spatial autocorrelation.


Biodiversity loss Climate Land use Non-indigenous species Spatial autocorrelation Economic development Institutions Econometrics 

Supplementary material

10113_2015_754_MOESM1_ESM.docx (25 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 24 kb)


  1. Aidt T, Dutta J, Sena V (2008) Governance regimes, corruption and growth: theory and evidence. J Comp Econ 36:195–220. doi: 10.1016/j.jce.2007.11.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angrist J, Krueger A (2001) Instrumental variables and the search for identification: from supply and demand to natural experiments. J Econ Perspect 15:69–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arrow K, Bolin B, Costanza R, Dasgupta P, Folke C, Holling C, Jansson B-O, Levin S, Mealer K-G, Perrings CA, Pimentel D (1995) Economic growth, carrying capacity, and the environment. Science 268:520–521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Asafu-Adjaye J (2003) Biodiversity loss and economic growth: a cross-country analysis. Contemp Econ Policy 21:173–185. doi: 10.1093/cep/byg003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baille J, Hilton-Taylor C, Stuart SN (eds) (2004) IUCN Red list of threatened species. A global species assessment. IUCN, GlandGoogle Scholar
  6. Butchart SHM, Walpole M, Collen B, van Strien A, Scharlemann JPW, Almond REA, Baillie JEM, Bomhard B, Brown C, Bruno J, Carpenter KE, Carr GM, Chanson J, Chenery AM, Csirke J, Davidson NC, Dentener F, Foster M, Galli A, Galloway JN, Genovesi PMA, Gregory RD, Hockings M, Kapos V, Lamarque JF, Leverington F, Loh MA, McGeoch L, McRae A, Minasyan MH, Morcillo TEE, Oldfield D, Pauly J, Quader S, Revenga C, Sauer JR, Skolnik B, Spear D, Stanwell-Smith D, Stuart SN, Symes A, Tierney M, Tyrrell TD, Vie JC, Watson R (2010) Global biodiversity: indicators of recent declines. Science 328:1164–1168. doi: 10.1126/science.118751
  7. CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) (2013a) Major threats. Accessed 29 April 2013
  8. CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) (2013b) COP 10 Decision X/2. Accessed 29 April 2013
  9. CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) (2013a) Accessed 3 May 2013
  10. CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) (2013b) Accesses 8 June 2013
  11. Clavero M, Brotons B, Pons P, Sol D (2009) Prominent role of invasive species in avian biodiversity loss. Biol Conserv 142:2043–2049. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2009.03.034 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crooks K, Soulé M (1999) Mesopredator release and avifaunail extinction in a fragmented system. Nature 400:563–566. doi: 10.1038/23028 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dalmazzone S (2000) Economic factors affecting vulnerability to biological invasions. In: Perrings C, Williamsson M, Dalmazzone S (eds) The economics of biological invasions. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp 17–30Google Scholar
  14. Dietz S, Adger N (2003) Economic growth, biodiversity loss and conservation effort. J Environ Manag 68:23–35. doi: 10.1016/S0301-4797(02)00231-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dinda S (2004) Environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis: a survey. Ecol Econ 49:431–455. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2004.02.011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. EIU (The Economist Intelligence Unit) (2014). Democracy index 2010. Accessed 4 June 2014
  17. Field R, Hawkins B, Cornell H, Currie D, Diniz-Filho A, Guégan J-F, Kaufman D, Kerr J, Mittelbach G, Oberdorff T, O’Brien E, Turner J (2009) Spatial species-richness gradients across scales: a meta analysis. Biogeography 36:132–147. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2008.01963.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Friedric RJ (1982) In defense of multiplicative terms in multiple regression equations. Am J Polit Sci 26:797–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Goldman B (2012) Meta-analysis of environmental Kuznets curve studies: determining the cause of the curve’s presence. Park Place Econ 20:22–32. Accessed 2 Aug 2013
  20. Gren I-M, Campos M (2011) Development and non-indigenous species. Reg Environ Change 11:593–601. doi: 10.1007/s10113-010-0183-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gren I-M, Thierfelder T, Berglund H (2011) Country characteristics and non-indigenous species. Environ Dev Econ 18:51–70. doi: 10.1017/S1355770X10000367 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Grossman GM, Krueger AB (1995) Economic growth and the environment. Quart J Econ 110:353–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Halkos G, Tzeremes N (2010) Measuring biodiversity performance: a conditional efficiency measurement approach. Environ Model Softw 25:1866–1873. doi: 10.1016/j.envsoft.2010.04.014 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hawkins B, Field R, Cornell H, Currie D, Guégan J-F, Kaufman D, Kerr J, Mittelbach G, Oberdorff T, O’Brien E, Porter E, Turner J (2003) Energy, water, and broad-scale geographic patterns of species richness. Ecology 84:3105–3117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. IMO (International Maritime Organization) (2012) International convention for the control and management of ships’ ballast water and sediments. Accessed 11 Nov 2012
  26. ISSG (Invasive Species Specialist Group) (2012) Global invasive species database. ( Accessed 20 June 2012
  27. IUCN (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) (2012) Red list database expert search. Accessed 21 June 2012
  28. IUCN and UNEP (2012) The world data base on protected areas. Accessed 3 Aug 2012
  29. Kerr JT, Currie DJ (1995) Effects of human activity on global extinction risk. Conserv Biol 9:1528–1538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Klein D, Kohler F, Báldi A, Batáry P, Concepción ED, Clough Y, Gabriel D, Holzchuh A, Knop E, Kovács A, Marshall EJP, Tschamtke T, Verhulst J (2009) On the relationship between farmland biodiversity and land-use intensity in Europe. Proc R Soc B 276:903–909. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1509 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kreft H, Jetz W (2007) Global patterns and determinants of vascular plant diversity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104:5925–5930. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0608361104 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Luck G (2007) A review of the relationships between human population density and biodiversity. Biol Rev 82:607–645. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-185X.2007.00028.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lui H, Baumgartner K, Li G (2013) An empirical investigation of biodiversity loss from threatened species perspective: a comparative study. Int J Sustain Soc 5:394–407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McDonald R, Boucher T (2011) Global development and the future of the protected area strategy. Biol Invasions 144:383–392. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.09.016 Google Scholar
  35. Mcdonald R, Kareiva P, Formana RTT (2008) The implications of current and future urbanisation for global protected areas and biodiversity conservation. Biol Conserv 141:1695–1703. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2008.04.025 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McPherson M, Nieswiadomy M (2005) Environmental Kuznets curve: threatened species and spatial effects. Ecol Econ 55:395–407. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2004.12.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mikkelson GM, Gonzalez A, Peterson GD (2007) Economic inequality predicts biodiversity loss. PLoS One 2(5):e444. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0000444 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mills J, Waite T (2009) Economic prosperity, biodiversity conservation, and the Environmental Kusnetz Curve. Ecol Econ 68:2087–2095. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2009.01.017 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mozunder P, Berrens R, Bohara A (2006) Is there an environmental Kuznets curve for the risk of biodiversity loss? J Dev Areas 39:175–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Naidoo R, Adamowicz W (2001) Effects of economic prosperity on numbers of threatened species. Conserv Biol 15:1021–1029. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1739.2001.0150041021.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Nationmaster (2012) Countries. Accessed 15 Mar 2012
  42. O’Brien RM (2007) A caution regarding rule of thumb for variance inflation factors. Qual Quant 41:673–690. doi: 10.1007/s11135-006-9018-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Owens I, Bennet P (2000) Quantifying biodiversity: a phenotypic perspective. Conserv Biol 14:1014–1022CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pandit R, Laband D (2007a) Spatial autocorrelation in country-level models of species imperilment. Ecol Econ 60:526–532. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2006.07.018 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pandit R, Laband D (2007b) General and specific autocorrelation: insights from country-level analysis of species imperilment. Ecol Econ 61:75–80. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2006.10.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pandit R, Laband D (2009a) Economic well-being, the distribution of income and species imperilment. Biodivers Conserv 18:3219–3253. doi: 10.1007/s10531-009-9638-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pandit R, Laband D (2009b) Economic freedom, corruption, and species imperilment: a cross-country comparison. Soc Nat Resour Int J 22:805–823. doi: 10.1080/08941920802102024 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Perrings C, Mäler K-G (1997) Biodiversity loss: economic and ecological issues. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  49. Pimm SL, Jenkins CN, Abell R, Brooks TM, Gittleman JL, Joppa LN, Raven PH, Roberts CM, Sexton JO (2014) The biodiversity of species and their rates of extinction, distribution, and protection. Science. doi: 10.1126/science.1246752 Google Scholar
  50. Rohde K (1992) Latitudinal gradients in species-diversity—the search for the primary cause. Oikos 65:514–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Spear D, Chown SL (2009) Non-indigenous ungulates as a threat to biodiversity. J Zool 279:1–17. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00604.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. StataCorp (2014) Data analysis and statistical software. Accessed 14 Nov 2014
  53. Stern D (2004) The rise and fall of the environmental Kuznets curve. World Dev 32:11419–11439. doi: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2004.03.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Stock JH, Yogo M (2005) Testing for weak instruments in linear iv regression, identification and inference for econometric models. In: Andrews DW, Stock JH (eds) Essays in honor of Thomas Rothenberg. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 80–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. TEEB (2013) The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity. Accessed 3 May 2013
  56. The Heritage Foundation (2014) The economic freedom index 2010. Accessed 7 June 2014
  57. Transparency International (2012) The global coalition against corruption. Accessed 10 Nov 2012
  58. UN (United Nations) (2012) Statistic division. Accessed 10 Jan 2012
  59. Vilà M, Pujadas J (2001) Land-use and socio-economic correlates of plant invasions in European and North African countries. Biol Conserv 100:397–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Watson JEM, Dudley N, Segan DB, Hockings M (2014) The performance and potential of protected areas. Nature 515:67–73. doi: 10.1038/nature13947 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Weatherbase data (2012) Accessed 9 June 2012
  62. Wilcove DS, Rothstein D, Dubow J, Phillips A, Losos E (1998) Quantifying threats to imperiled species in the United States. Bioscience 48:6007–6615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wood A, Stedmand-Edwards P, Mang J (2000) The root causes of biodiversity loss. World Wildlife Fund and Earthscan Publications Ltd, London, UKGoogle Scholar
  64. World Bank (2014) Longterm average precipitation in mm/year. Accessed 2 June 2014
  65. Zellner A (1962) An efficient method of estimating seemingly unrelated regression equations and tests for aggregation bias. J Am Stat Assoc 57:348–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ing-Marie Gren
    • 1
    Email author
  • Monica Campos
    • 1
  • Lena Gustafsson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of EcologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden

Personalised recommendations