Examining the evidence on environmental regulations and industry location

Smita B. Brunnermeier, Arik Levinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


This article offers a review and critique of the large literature on the pollution havens hypothesis. This hypothesis refers to the notion that certain jurisdictions can become pollution havens as dirty industries relocate or expand in response to differences in regulatory stringency. The early literature, based on cross-sectional analyses, typically concludes that environmental regulations have an insignificant effect on firm location decisions. However, recent studies that use panel data to control for unobserved heterogeneity, or instruments to control for endogeneity, find statistically significant pollution haven effects of reasonable magnitude. Furthermore, this distinction appears regardless of whether the studies look across countries, states, counties, or industries, or whether they examine plant locations, investment, or international trade patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-41
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Environment and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


  • Industrial flight
  • Pollution haven
  • Trade and environment


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