Understanding economic development and its environmental impact

Understanding economic development and its environmental impact

July 24, 20181 min read

While fears about the environmental impact of economic development remains under discussion, the number of proenvironmental international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) continues to grow. But little is known about their influence on countries to create more eco-friendly industrial processes and technologies. In new research from Wesley Longhofer, assistant professor of organization & management, and coauthor Andrew Jorgenson (Boston College), the pair determined which nations they believed were “more embedded in the proenvironmental world society,” determining the level of influence of INGOs, as well as global treaties and professionals, on the countries they studied. The data took into account GDP per capita to find the effect of economic development on carbon emissions. The research examined whether countries that were more likely to feel this global pressure to “enact pro-environmental policies or invest in cleaner technologies” subsequently experienced a drop in rates of carbon emissions. Longhofer and Jorgenson created a measure to analyze the effects of development over time on carbon emissions in 79 countries, using data from 1970 to 2009. They found that “nations that are the most embedded in the environmental world society experienced a moderate decrease” in the impact of economic development on carbon emissions. Essentially, larger and more developed nations were more likely to feel the influence of proenvironmental INGOs than less developed countries, ultimately showing a small drop in carbon emissions.


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  • Wesley Longhofer
    Wesley Longhofer Goizueta Foundation Term Associate Professor of Organization & Management; Executive Academic Director, Business & Society Institute

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