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American Economic Review: Vol. 99 No. 5 (December 2009)


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Technology, International Trade, and Pollution from US Manufacturing

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Levinson, Arik. 2009. "Technology, International Trade, and Pollution from US Manufacturing." American Economic Review, 99(5): 2177-92.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.5.2177


Pollution emitted by US manufacturers declined markedly over the past several decades, even as real manufacturing output increased. I first show that most of the decline in US manufacturing pollution has resulted from changing production processes ("technology"), rather than changes in the mix of goods produced. I then show that increased net imports of polluting goods ("international trade") accounts for only a small portion of the pollution reductions from the changing mix of goods. Together, these two findings demonstrate that shifting polluting industries overseas explains only a minor part -- less than 10 percent -- of the cleanup of US manufacturing. (JEL F18, L23, L60, O30, Q52, Q53)

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Levinson, Arik (Georgetown U)

JEL Classifications

F18: Trade and Environment
L23: Organization of Production
L60: Industry Studies: Manufacturing: General
O30: Technological Change; Research and Development: General
Q52: Pollution Control Adoption Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
Q53: Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

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