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Does economic prosperity lead to environmental sustainability in developing economies? Environmental Kuznets curve theory

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Since developing countries experience economic and environmental sustainability challenges, it is desirable digging into the linkages between economic and environmental parameters. The purpose of this work is to evaluate the existence of the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) theory (i.e., the inverse U-shape connection between real GDP per capita and per capita carbon dioxide emissions) in the sample of 11 developing countries. By using balanced annual panel data in the period between 1992 and 2014 and two alternative estimation techniques, we explored the potential inverted U-shaped linkage between carbon dioxide emissions and real GDP per capita in the sample of interest. For analysis purposes, Pedroni and Westerlund co-integration techniques are employed. Then, fully modified ordinary least squares, pooled mean group methods are applied for long-run parameter estimations. And, the Dumitrescu-Hurlin causality approach is employed for causal directions. Firstly, this work’s findings provide the supportive evidence to the inverse U-shaped linkage in the long-run, indicating that an increase in real GDP per capita and electricity consumption tends to mitigate long-run carbon dioxide emissions in the developing countries, for the whole sample. Secondly, the country-specific findings suggested the presence of EKC theory for Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, the Russian Federation, Thailand, and Turkey. It implicated that these countries are on the path of attaining environmental sustainability in the long-run. However, Mexico, Philippines, Indonesia, and South Africa failed to lend credence to the EKC theory. It manifested that these countries need to design strategies directed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from economic activity and electricity generation through efficiency improvement or promotion of renewables. Finally, bidirectional causal links are observed among all the variables of interest. The findings suggest that country-specific targeted action plans should be implemented to ensure the environmental sustainability in the developing world.

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MA: writing-review and editing, visualization, software. AM: formal analysis, data handling, and methodology. ES: Conceptualization, writing-original draft. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Munir Ahmad.

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Responsible Editor: Ilhan Ozturk

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Ahmad, M., Muslija, A. & Satrovic, E. Does economic prosperity lead to environmental sustainability in developing economies? Environmental Kuznets curve theory. Environ Sci Pollut Res 28, 22588–22601 (2021).

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