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Article

Economic Growth and Pollution Emission in China: Structural Path Analysis

by 1,2, 1,2,3,*, 4,5, 1,2, 1,2,3 and 6
1
College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
2
Research Institute for Circular Economy in Western China, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
3
Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
4
Key Lab of Pollution Ecology and Environmental Engineering, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, China
5
Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), 14467 Potsdam, Germany
6
College of Earth Geography and Environmental Science, Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou 730000, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2569; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072569
Received: 3 July 2018 / Revised: 12 July 2018 / Accepted: 13 July 2018 / Published: 23 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Sustainability and Applications)
The relationship between economic growth and environmental pollution has long been a controversial topic. However, simply the detection of the existence of environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) is not enough to understand how economic growth induced environmental pollution. This study investigated the path and mechanism of the effect of economic growth on the emission of two types of environmental pollutants, that is, industrial smoke and dust and sulfur dioxide, by using a structural equation model and a sample of 283 prefecture-level cities in China in 2005 and 2015. The research results show that economic growth exerted both direct and indirect effects on the emission of the two environmental pollutants. In addition to a direct impact through the economic scale effect, economic growth also indirectly impacted the two environmental pollutants emissions through three mediators, that is, industrial structure, technological innovations and environmental regulations. For different pollutants, the effect paths of economic growth on their emission showed both similarities and differences. First, with regards to industrial smoke and dust emissions and sulfur dioxide emissions, the effects of economic growth on the amount of these two emissions through environmental regulations and the industrial structure were negative inhibitory effects and positive promoting effects, respectively. This means that in prefectural-level cities in China, environmental regulation factors have produced some effects in reducing the emissions of these two pollutants while the industrial structure (level of industrialization) can increase the emissions of these two pollutants. However, the effect strength of these two paths shows a gradual weakening. Second, these two paths differ in effect strength and its changes. The positive promoting effects of the industrial structure on pollutant emission are significantly higher than the inhibitory effects of environmental regulation. In addition, our study also found that the direct impact path of economic growth on environmental pollution also passed significance testing, particularly in 2015. This shows that other reasons affect pollutant emission, such as system factors, spatial migration of industries and so forth. View Full-Text
Keywords: economic growth; pollutants emission; influence path; structural equation model economic growth; pollutants emission; influence path; structural equation model
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MDPI and ACS Style

Yang, N.; Zhang, Z.; Xue, B.; Ma, J.; Chen, X.; Lu, C. Economic Growth and Pollution Emission in China: Structural Path Analysis. Sustainability 2018, 10, 2569. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072569

AMA Style

Yang N, Zhang Z, Xue B, Ma J, Chen X, Lu C. Economic Growth and Pollution Emission in China: Structural Path Analysis. Sustainability. 2018; 10(7):2569. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072569

Chicago/Turabian Style

Yang, Na, Zilong Zhang, Bing Xue, Junxia Ma, Xingpeng Chen, and Chenyu Lu. 2018. "Economic Growth and Pollution Emission in China: Structural Path Analysis" Sustainability 10, no. 7: 2569. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072569

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