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Jeffords Explores the Role of Constitutional Environmental Rights Provisions on Environmental Outcomes

Christopher Jeffords, Department of Economics, and Lanse Minkler (University of Connecticut) recently completed a working paper entitled “Do Constitutions Matter? The Effects of Constitutional Environmental Rights Provisions on Environmental Outcomes.”

The paper is available through the University of Connecticut Department of Economics Working Paper Series and via IDEAS/RePEc.

Jeffords and Minkler use a novel data set within an instrumental variables framework to test whether the presence and legal strength of constitutional environmental rights are related to environmental outcomes.

The outcome variables include Yale’s Environmental Performance Index and some of its components. The analysis accounts for the possibility that a country which takes steps to protect the environment might also be more likely to constitutionalize environmental rights.

Controls include: (1) gross domestic product per capita; (2) whether the country is a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; (3) rule of law; (4) population density; and (5) exogenous geographic effects. The inclusion of income means that the study is directly related to the Environmental Kuznets Curve literature.

Jeffords and Minkler find that constitutions do indeed matter for positive environmental outcomes, which suggests that we should not only pay attention to the incentives confronting polluters and resource users, but also to the incentives and constraints confronting those policymakers who initiate, monitor, and enforce environmental policies.

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