Environmental Kuznets Curve, a Mirage? A Non-parametric Analysis for MENA Countries


This paper investigates the relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and gross domestic product in the Middle East and North Africa region using World Bank data covering the period 1980 to 2010 on the eve of the Arab Spring. Unlike extant studies using parametric models, the results provide evidence against the postulated inverted-U shaped relationship between pollution and the level of economic development. Using a non-parametric model, new evidence is found against the existence of a carbon Environmental Kuznets Curve in contrast to previous studies on the region. The paper provides a cautionary note against the use of parametric models to draw policy implications about the trade-off (or lack thereof) between environmental quality and the level of economic development.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    More recently, Ogundipe et al. (2014) used income inequality to explain the EKC relationship in Africa.

  2. 2.

    It is worth mentioning that the data were restricted to the 1980–2010 period since these data constituted the most complete and balanced panel for the MENA countries. The data are also important because the evidence drew from the period ending at the eve of Arab Spring.


  1. Al-Mulali, U., Saboori, B., & Ozturk, I. (2015). Investigating the environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis in Vietnam. Energy Policy, 76, 123–131.

  2. Apergis, N., & Payne, J. E. (2009). CO2 emissions, energy usage, and output in Central America. Energy Policy, 37, 3282–3286.

  3. Arouri, M. E. H., Ben Youssef, A., M’henni, H., & Rault, C. (2012). Energy consumption, economic growth and CO2 emissions in Middle East and north African countries. Energy Policy, 45, 342–349.

  4. Azomahou, T., Laisney, F., & Van, P. N. (2006). Economic development and CO2 emissions: A nonparametric panel approach. Journal of Public Economics, 90, 1347–1363.

  5. Bertinelli, L., & Strobl, E. (2005). The environmental Kuznets curve semi-parametrically revisited. Economics Letters, 88, 350–357.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Coondoo, D., & Dinda, S. (2002). Causality between income and emission: A country group-specific econometric analysis. Ecological Economics, 40, 351–367.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Dasgupta, S., Laplante, B., Wang, H., & Wheeler, D. (2002). Confronting the environmental Kuznets curve. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 16, 147–168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Grossman, G.M & A.B. Krueger (1991). Environmental impacts of a North American free trade agreement. NBER Working Papers 3914, (on-line) http://www.nber.org/papers/w3914.pdf. Accessed 17 April 2017.

  9. Grossman, G. M., & Krueger, A. B. (1995). Economic growth and the environment. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 110, 353–377.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Kijima, M., Nishide, K., & Ohyama, A. (2010). Economic models for the environmental Kuznets curve: A survey. Journal of Economic Dynamics & Control, 34, 1187–1201.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Kim, K. H. (2013). Inference of the environmental Kuznets curve. Applied Economics Letters, 20, 119–122.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Kuznets, S. (1955). Economic growth and income inequality. American Economic Review, 45, 1–28.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Millimet, D. L., List, J. A., & Stengos, T. (2003). The environmental Kuznets curve: Real Progress or Misspecified models? Review of Economics and Statistics, 85, 1038–1047.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Ogundipe, A. A., Alege, P. O., & Ogundipe, O. M. (2014). Income heterogeneity and environmental Kuznets curve in Africa. Journal of Sustainable Development, 7, 1–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Pao, H.-T., & Tsai, C.-M. (2010). CO2 emissions, energy consumption and economic growth in BRIC countries. Energy Policy, 38, 7850–7860.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Pasten, R., & Figueroa, E. (2012). The environmental Kuznets curve: A survey of the theoretical literature. International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, 6, 195–224.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Roy, N., & van Kooten, C. G. (2004). Another look at the income elasticity of non-point source air pollutants: A semiparametric approach. Economics Letters, 85, 17–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Royston, P., & Altman, D. G. (1994). Regression using fractional polynomials of continuous covariates: Parsimonious parametric modelling (with discussion). Applied Statistics, 43, 429–467.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Sauerbrei, W., & Royston, P. (1999). Building multivariable prognostic and diagnostic models: Transformation of the predictors by using fractional polynomials. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, 162, 71–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Shafik, N. (1994). Economic development and the environmental quality: An econometric analysis. Oxford Economic Papers, 46, 757–773.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Stern, D. I. (2004). The rise and fall of the environmental Kuznets curve. World Development, 32, 1419–1439.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Stern, D. I., Common, M. S., & Barbier, E. B. (1996). Economic growth and environmental degradation: The environmental Kuznets. World Development, 24, 1151–1160.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. World Bank (2017). World Development Indicators. Available at: https://datacatalog.worldbank.org/dataset/world-development-indicators, last accessed May 19, 2017.

  24. Wang, Y. C. (2013). Functional sensitivity of testing the environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis. Resource and Energy Economics, 35, 451–466.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Zanin, L., & Marra, G. (2012). Assessing the functional relationship between CO2 emissions and economic development using an additive mixed model approach. Economic Modelling, 29, 1328–1337.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ali Fakih.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Fakih, A., Marrouch, W. Environmental Kuznets Curve, a Mirage? A Non-parametric Analysis for MENA Countries. Int Adv Econ Res 25, 113–119 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11294-019-09724-9

Download citation


  • Carbon emissions
  • Environmental Kuznets curve
  • Non-parametric regression

JEL Classification

  • C14
  • C23
  • Q54