Paper by Jeffords Explores the Temporal Effects of Constitutional Environmental Rights on Access to Water/Sanitation

Posted on 9/23/2015 8:20:19 AM

Forthcoming in the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, this paper was originally prepared by Christopher Jeffords (Department of Economics) for the Scholar-in-Residence in Global Environmental Constitutionalism program at Delaware Law School (Widener University), in which Jeffords participated during spring 2015.

Using novel panel data on constitutional environmental rights (CER) for 190 countries from 1990-2012, this paper questions if the presence and language of CER provisions provides increased access to improved sanitation facilities and drinking water sources. While implementing statutory laws and regulations derived from CER provisions is a dynamic process, the presence and language of CER provisions is temporally fixed. To capture these dynamics, the presence of a CER and a measure of its legal strength are interacted with its respective age as explanatory variables within a fixed effects framework yielding: (1) no evidence of an association between the CER measures and access to improved sanitation facilities (measured as the percentage of the population with access); (2) a positive statistically significant association between ageing CER provisions and access to improved water sources (measured as the percentage of the population with access); and (3) a positive but weakly statistically significant association between the legal strength of ageing CER provisions and access to improved water sources, which is improved upon for countries with British as opposed to French legal origins.

Controlling for temporal, institutional, economic, and sociodemographic characteristics, as well as the likelihood of simultaneous causality, the primary results demonstrate that a one year increase in the age of an existing CER provision is associated with a: 2.54 percentage point increase in access to improved water sources for the entire population; 1.56 percentage point increase in access to improved water sources for the urban population; and, 3.17 percentage point increase in access to improved water sources for the rural population.