Social Capital and National Environmental Performance: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

Quentin Grafton, Stephen Knowles

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Using cross-country data from a sample of low-, middle-, and high-income countries, this article provides the first empirical test of the empirical relationships between national measures of social capital (civic and public), social divergence, and social capacity on various indicators of national environmental performance. Overall, the results provide little empirical support for the hypothesis that social determinants have a statistically beneficial effect on national indicators of environmental quality but do show that higher population density is associated with increases in environmental degradation. The findings suggest that the presumption that social capital is always good for the environment may be as flawed as the previously widely held view that higher incomes are always associated with increased environmental degradation. The policy implication is that improved national environmental performance may be best achieved by limiting future increases in population density and lowering emission and input intensities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)336-370
    JournalJournal of Environment and Development
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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