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New evidence on the soft budget constraint: Chinese environmental policy effectiveness in SOE-dominated cities

Abstract : This paper analyzes the efficiency of a set of environmental measures introduced by China’s 11th Five-Year Plan in 2006, using a rich and unique data set assembled from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the State Environmental Protection Agency. By exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in regulatory stringency generated by the regulatory system across China’s provinces, we find evidence that pollution-intensive cities reduced their SO2 emissions substantially, whereas cities with a strong state-owned enterprise (SOE) presence did not. We interpret the results as pointing to evidence of Chinese SOEs’ ongoing soft budget constraints. The findings are robust to the inclusion of different fixed effects and other key determinants of pollution. Moreover, we investigate the main factors underlying regulatory non-compliance: the overlapping (or not) of “Two Control Zone” (Special Policy Zone, Coastal) cities wherein environmental (growth) policies are prioritized; the existence of turning points below (above) which growth and reductions in pollution substitute for (complement) each other; the size and extent of industrial concentration, which determines the possibilities of firms negotiating with the local authorities; and finally, the regulation-induced adoption of cleaner technologies by polluting firms, which enhance productivity and lower SO2 emissions.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02919936
Contributor : Umr 8174 Centre d'Économie de la Sorbonne <>
Submitted on : Monday, August 24, 2020 - 11:36:11 AM
Last modification on : Monday, February 22, 2021 - 3:26:02 PM

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Mathilde Maurel, Thomas Pernet. New evidence on the soft budget constraint: Chinese environmental policy effectiveness in SOE-dominated cities. Public Choice, Springer Verlag, In press, ⟨10.1007/s11127-020-00834-1⟩. ⟨hal-02919936⟩

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