Inequalities, geography and emission

Lay summary

The main objective of this research project is to study the role of within-country inequalities on environmental policy choices on the basis of regression analysis and a major data collection effort. It is relatively well established that rich countries tend to adopt greener policies than poorer ones. In contrast, the link between the environment and inequalities within countries is a lot less well understood and analyzed. This claims for further research, as regional disparities within countries are large, sometimes even larger than between countries, and it is highly probable that this affects environmental policy decisions at the national level.

The project has two parts. First, by merging three existing data sources, we construct a new database that reports anthropogenic emissions, GDP, population and geographic characteristics for thousands of grid cells on the Earth’s surface over the 1990-2005 period. This will allow us to analyze the world distribution of several types of emissions (including not only direct Greenhouse Gases but also ozone precursor gases and other substances), and to propose alternative inequality measures. Second, using econometric techniques, and controlling for geographic factors, we propose to estimate by how much economic inequalities affect emissions and environmental policy. To do this, we regress emissions per capita at the cell level on income per capita and other controls, and also explore whether emissions or environmental policy proxies at the national level are affected by within-country economic and environmental inequality.

The project enriches our knowledge along two major directions. First, the unique data collection allows us to provide a novel descriptive analysis that is both global in scope and detailed in terms of regional disaggregation. Second, associated regression estimates provide a better understanding of the determinants of anthropogenic emissions and of the link between regional inequalities within countries and environmental policy choices.


Personnes et institutions


Project Leader Co-applicant PhD students
Prof. Jean-Marie Grether
Institut de recherches économiques
Université de Neuchâtel
Prof. Marcelo Olarreaga
Departement d'économie politique
Université de Genève
Mr. Caspar Sauter and
Mr. Benjamin Tissot-Daguette
Institut de recherches économiques
Université de Neuchâtel