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Neoclassical Growth, Environment and Technological Change: The Environmental Kuznets Curve

This paper investigates socially optimal patterns of economic growth and environmental quality in a neoclassical growth model with endogenous technological progress. In the model, environmental quality has a positive effect not only on utility but also on production. Moreover, cleaner technologies can be used in the economy if a part of the output is used in environmentally oriented R&D. In this framework, if the initial level of capital is low, then the shadow price of a cleaner technology is low in relation to the cost of developing it, given by the marginal utility of consumption, and it is not worth investing in R&D. Thus, there will be a first stage of growth based only on the accumulation of capital with environmental quality decreasing until there is enough pollution to make investing in R&D profitable. After this turning point, if the new technologies are efficient enough, the economy can evolve along a balanced growth path with increasing environmental quality. The result is that the optimal investment pattern supports an environmental Kuznets curve.

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Energy Specializations: Energy Modeling – Other; Energy and the Environment – Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases; Energy and the Environment – Policy and Regulation

JEL Codes:
C59 - Econometric Modeling: Other
Q54 - Climate; Natural Disasters and Their Management; Global Warming
E60 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General

Keywords: Neoclassical Growth Model, Endogenous Technological Progress, External Effects, Environmental Kuznets Curve

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol30-NoSI2-7

Published in Volume 30, Special Issue #2 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.