ABSTRACT

Do poor countries need to become rich in order to be able to offer high levels of environmental public goods to their population? Supposedly yes, according to most of the theoretical and empirical literature on the relationship between income and environmental degradation. Most studies that analyze how growing income influences a country’s environmental record have shown that many forms of pollution tend to follow an inverted U-shape, which became known as the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC): at the beginning of a country’s economic development, pollution increases along with national income until a certain threshold is reached, after which some types of pollution, such as air and water pollution, tend to level off and decline.1 Hence developing countries, which are all situated on the upwardsloping part of this curve, should be confronted with increases in pollution until they grow rich enough to reach the turning point, after which environmental pollution supposedly levels off again.