Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Don P. Clark

Committee Members

Dr. Daniel De La Torre Ugarte, Dr. Dayton Lambert, Dr. Mohammed Moshin, and Dr. Mary F. Evans


This dissertation investigates the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions, international trade, and economic growth as per capita incomes increase. The first chapter uses a Suits Index to illustrate the degree of pollution concentration among countries at different levels of per capita Gross Domestic Product. It also analyzes the collective progressivity of pollution and compares countries with similar levels of per capita income to monitor emissions as countries move up the income scale. Pollution is found to be concentrated among the lower income countries for all sources of greenhouse gas emissions including nitrous oxide, methane, and carbon dioxide. Emissions are more concentrated among poorer countries when the source of pollution is the agricultural sector. Poor countries account for much more pollution than would be expected from their levels of economic activity and well being. Chapter 2 uses an Environmental Kuznets Curve model to investigate the relationship between methane and nitrous oxide emissions from industrial and agricultural sources and per capita income from 1970 to 2005 for 157 countries. A fixed effect panel regression model is used to capture technological change, economies of scale, composition effects, and trade effects on per capita pollution. Results suggest that an inverted U-shape characterizes the relationship between per capita income and both industrial and agricultural emissions, but that agricultural turning points will occur later and at a higher per capita pollution than industrial turning points in the absence of regulation. In Chapter 3, a dynamic fixed effect panel data regression model is used to explore the relationship between pollution emissions and several related economic factors. An alternative simultaneous equation model is developed to allow for both a direct effect of trade on environmental damage via changes in relative prices and an indirect effect of trade on income growth via liberalization. Human capital, physical capital, labor and the catch-up term are expected to affect the growth of the economy positively and significantly. The extent of their economic significance will depend on the level of economic activity of the countries analyzed. Direct and indirect effects of openness on pollution are ambiguous and enter insignificantly or have a small effect on pollution across all country groups. Concerns about trade liberalization on environmental degradation from GHG seem unjustified.

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