Environment

David Keiser, Joseph S. Shapiro, 05 October 2019

The Trump administration recently repealed the US Clean Water Rule, which sought to extend federal water quality protection to cover most rivers and streams. This column seeks to better understand the effectiveness of such laws that govern US surface and drinking water quality, the efficiency of these laws, and the state of economic research on water quality. It finds that regulations governing surface water quality are more likely to fail cost-benefit tests compared to drinking water and air pollution regulations, possibly due to an underestimation of the benefits of surface water pollution control.

Achyuta Adhvaryu, Sadish Dhakal, Namrata Kala, Anant Nyshadham, 29 September 2019

The impact of environmental conditions on worker productivity provides an opportunity to study the effectiveness of management practices in increasing worker efficiency. This column uses evidence from Indian garment factories to show how air pollution reduces the relative productivity of workers in tasks in which they are otherwise more efficient. Effective managers can respond by reallocating workers to other tasks in order to bring total productivity losses to near zero. 

Richard Samans, 22 September 2019

The world’s climate change strategy and the global trading system are both in need of an infusion of fresh momentum. This column argues that the climate and trade diplomatic communities need each other more than they know, and it is time to bring them together. The best way to reinvigorate both climate and trade diplomacy is to think and act outside the box of the Paris Agreement and conventional free trade agreements and push for low-carbon trade agreements.

Beata Javorcik, 13 September 2019

Economists argue whether foreign direct investment in developing economies exports pollution or generates green growth. Beata Javorcik talks to Tim Phillips about a surprising conclusion from factory-level research.

Hiroyasu Inoue, Yasuyuki Todo, 10 September 2019

Natural disasters can have enormous economic consequences that affect firms both directly and indirectly. Using the example of the Great East Japan Earthquake, this column investigates how the propagation of shocks varies with the characteristics of supply chains. It finds that the indirect effects are far larger than the direct effects. Shocks propagate more widely and are more persistent if supply networks have complex cycles and low input substitutability.

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