According to the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) hypothesis, economic growth and the reduction of environmental degradation are compatible goals. An inverted U-shaped relationship between economic performance and environmental pollution suggests that, empirically, an economy is associated with smaller levels of pollution after some threshold income point. One potential explanation for the empirical evidence of an EKC is increasing returns to pollution abatement, where the abatement efficiency rises with an increase in the scale of abatement. Doubling the clean-up efforts more than doubles the abatement of pollution. As this efficiency gain makes abatement less expensive, pollution might fall as more abatement is undertaken. This study tests the hypothesis that there are increasing returns to abating pollution. Empirical evidence on environmental risks in the US agricultural sector since 1970 support the existence of increasing returns. In addition, I estimate the productivity of pollution abatement using refined empirical productivity measurement methods and explicitly control the level of technology. The results show the importance of including an environmental productivity variable in the EKC framework.
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