Inderscience Publishers

Deforestation, economic prosperity, and political institutions in East Asia and the Pacific

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By examining annual data (1994-2003) for 15 countries from East Asia and the Pacific, this study provides an analysis of the effects of political institutions and other socioeconomic factors on deforestation. Results show that economic prosperity does not automatically cause higher environmental quality. Furthermore, it was found that population growth and agricultural sector growth worsen deforestation. In contrast, openness to international trade was observed to reduce deforestation. More importantly, greater political freedom was associated with poorer environmental quality. As in Olson's theory, in the presence of powerful special interest groups, policies might fall short of improving environmental regulation. Added to this is the presence of myopic voters which may impede the progress of environmental programmes.

Keywords: deforestation, political institutions, East Asia, Pacific, economic prosperity, environmental quality, population growth, agriculture, international trade, political freedom

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