Factoring the Environmental Kuznets Curve:
    Evidence from Automotive Lead Emissions

    With F.G. Hank Hilton

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    Abstract

    This paper describes the relationship between automotive lead emissions and national income for a panel of 48 countries over 20 years. It draws three principal conclusions. First, automotive lead emissions follow an inverse-U or "environmental Kuznets curve" with respect to national income. Second, the location of the peak of this curve is sensitive to the functional form chosen to estimate the curve, making comparisons with or interpretations of earlier literature difficult. Third, the declining portion of the curve depends critically on reducing gasoline lead content, not gasoline use. In other words, automotive lead pollution is the product of two separate factors: lead per gallon of gasoline (pollution intensity), and gasoline consumption (polluting activity). Separate estimates of the relationship of these two factors to national income are used to step away from the usual aggregate estimates of environmental Kuznets curves and to demonstrate that the observed inverse-U shape results from the interactions between the two baseline relationships. This paper documents those relationships separately for the first time.


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