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Environmental Performance in Socially Fragmented Countries

Abstract

Social fragmentation is often associated with reduced co-operative behaviour, which undermines public goods provision (such as environmental protection). The few studies linking social fragmentation and environmental performance have been confined to using ethnic fractionalisation as the only measure of social heterogeneity. In this paper, we contribute to the literature in a twofold manner. First, we bring into the analysis alternative measures of social fragmentation (i.e. religious fractionalisation, ethnic/religious polarisation), that have received considerable attention in development economics in recent years. Second, this is the first study to our knowledge that makes use of a large panel dataset of several environmental indicators to explore links between ethnic/religious diversity and the environment. We find that all indices of social fragmentation are negatively linked to measures of environmental quality, although for some of them the size of the effect is larger in the case of polarisation.

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Notes

  1. Here we follow the development economics literature and focus on ethnic and religious heterogeneity when discussing the impacts of social fragmentation. Social fragmentation can also appear in other forms (e.g. caste, occupation, age).

  2. There is a non-linear relationship between these two indices of social fragmentation, and an in-depth discussion on their construction can be found in Montalvo and Reynal-Querol (2005a).

  3. In their rent-seeking model, individuals are distributed in \(N\) groups that allocate resources (effort) to enhance the probability of success in appropriating the contested resources and maximise their net benefits (given their probability of success, the anticipated utility related to their preferred outcome and the cost of rent-seeking effort; see Montalvo and Reynal-Querol 2005a, pp. 302–303).

  4. Esteban and Ray (2011) also emphasize the distinction between fractionalisation and polarisation in explaining the extent of conflictual behaviour given the nature of the contestable good.

  5. Regional dummies are included in all regressions (Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, South Asia, Latin America). “Appendix Table 8” lists all variable descriptions and data sources. Descriptive statistics are presented in “Appendix Table 9”.

  6. The World Bank estimates this at $20 per ton of carbon times the number of tones of carbon dioxide emitted. In that respect, this measure rather captures the carbon intensity of overall production, rather than damages attributed to \(\text{ CO}_{2}\)-induced pollution and global warming.

  7. The results are hence in accordance with Roberts and Grimes (1997) and Apergis and Payne (2009).

  8. For a discussion on how population density may encourage higher rates of savings and spending on education (and hence enhance adjusted net savings) as a result of increasing returns to scale in production and specialisation in labour markets, see Becker et al. (1999), as well as De Mello and Zilberman (2008).

  9. There is very few data (less than 35 observations) when using the Adjusted Net Savings index as a proxy for environmental performance.

  10. This measure of democracy looks at the extent of political rights and civil liberties across countries (for a discussion see Emerson 2006).

  11. Results are available from the authors.

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Acknowledgments

The author thanks the editor and two anonymous referees for their many helpful comments on the paper.

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Correspondence to Elissaios Papyrakis.

Appendix

Appendix

See Tables 7, 8 and 9

Table 7 Correlation matrix
Table 8 List of variables used in the regressions
Table 9 Descriptive statistics

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Papyrakis, E. Environmental Performance in Socially Fragmented Countries. Environ Resource Econ 55, 119–140 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10640-012-9619-6

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Keywords

  • Environmental performance
  • Fractionalisation
  • Polarisation

JEL Classification

  • Q50
  • Z13