The determinants of pollution levels : firm-level evidence from Chinese manufacturing

Liangliang JIANG, Chen LIN, Ping LIN

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

153 Citations (Scopus)


Using a large, unique, firm-level dataset from the Chinese manufacturing sector, we study important factors that are related to emission intensity for three pollutants in China – sulfur dioxide, wastewater, and soot. Our main findings are as follows: (1) compared to state-owned enterprises (SOEs), both foreign-owned firms and domestic public-listed firms exhibit less intensive pollutant emissions; (2) firms in regions with less local protection have lower pollution intensity; (3) better property rights protection is negatively correlated with pollutant discharge over and beyond the national standards; and (4) larger firms, firms in industries that export more, and firms with more educated employees pollute less. These results suggest that China should not target foreign firms more harshly in its effort to reduce industrial pollution. Better institutions in the form of more effective law enforcement and lower entry barriers across regional markets are also means of curbing China’s pressing environmental problems during its current stage of economic development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-142
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Comparative Economics
Issue number1
Early online date14 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014

Bibliographical note

L. Jiang and P. Lin gratefully acknowledge Lingnan University for financial support of this project.


  • FDI
  • Law enforcement
  • Local protection
  • Pollution

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