The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Environmental Kuznets Curve

  • Arik Levinson
Reference work entry


Pollution often appears first to worsen and later to improve as countries’ incomes grow. Because of its resemblance to the pattern of inequality and income described by Simon Kuznets, this pattern of pollution and income has been labelled an ‘environmental Kuznets curve’. While many pollutants exhibit this pattern, peak pollution levels occur at different income levels for different pollutants, countries and time periods. This link between income and pollution cannot be interpreted causally, and is consistent with either efficient or inefficient growth paths. The evidence does, however, refute the claim that environmental degradation is an inevitable consequence of economic growth.


Carbon emissions Economic growth: and pollution Environmental Kuznets curve Environmental regulation Local externalities Pollution Income 

JEL Classification

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arik Levinson
    • 1
  1. 1.