Working Papers

Abstract: I quantify the welfare effects of international trade in waste. I build a structural gravity model in which waste generation is a byproduct of manufacturing and waste is input to recycling. My estimates reveal that low-value waste is more sensitive to trade barriers than high-value waste, while richer countries import a greater share of high-value waste than low-value waste. Although existing patterns of waste trade make countries of all income levels better off, low-value waste trade, which creates large negative externalities relative to its private value, makes middle-income countries worse off. I estimate that China’s 2018 ban on low-value waste imports made China and several lower-income countries better off. However, eliminating the pollution haven effect or recycling as an intermediate input to manufacturing, any waste trade makes even the lower income countries better off. Depending on the type of waste trade banned, manufacturing production across countries also faces a differentiated impact. While a high-value waste trade ban hurts manufacturing in rich countries, a low-value waste trade ban reduces the output in lower-income countries.

Presentations (§ scheduled): University at Albany - State University of New York 2022, Colorado University Environmental & Resource Economics Workshop 2022, Midwest International Trade Conference 2022, American Economic Association 2022 (Poster), Southern Economic Association 2021, Western Economic Association Annual 2021, Midwest Economic Association 2021, Western Economic Association International 2021, Heartland Environmental and Resource Economics Workshop at Illinois 2019, UIUC Graduate Seminars 

Abstract: We study network effects in the diffusion of regulatory standards through international trade. Our results show that countries are more likely to domestically adopt regulations that they comply with while exporting. We find evidence of such diffusion primarily in regulations concerning attributes of the final product rather than production processes. Consistent with a network effect, we show that countries more open to international trade are the drivers of regulatory diffusion. In an analysis of diffusion in individual features within labelling regulations---the most prevalent regulations in our data---we find that labelling requirements ensuring safety of use propagate the most, and countries tend to domestically adopt features similar to those imposed by their importing partners. Overall, our results support the argument that economic integration can facilitate the strengthening of regulatory standards.

Presentations († by co-author): Midwest Economic Association 2021, North American Regional Science Council 2020, Mid-Continent Regional Science Association 2019, UIUC Graduate Seminars

Incentivizing Membership in Environmental Agreements via Exclusionary Restrictions: The Basel Convention (with George Deltas) 

[Draft available upon request]

Abstract: We study the incentives for the adoption of a multilateral waste trade agreement, known as the Basel Convention. This agreement, which regulates the flow of hazardous waste across countries, works on a prior-informed-consent system, whereby before the actual waste shipment takes place, the exporting member country must notify the importing member country and the importing country must consent to that shipment. Further, members are prohibited from trading in hazardous waste with non-members unless they have a no less environmentally sound side-agreement with such non-members. Using panel data for accession to the Convention by countries combined with data on bilateral waste flows for 32 years, we find that country pairs where at least one partner hasn't ratified the Convention trade more than pairs where both did. However, as the share of countries part of the Convention increases, the trade among members increases while that among country pairs where either is a non-member decreases. Our results show that once the share of member countries hits the 60-70% threshold, members account for a larger share of world waste trade than non-members, thereby creating economic incentives for such countries to join. 

Presentations (§ scheduled, † by co-author): AERE@SEA 2022, Conference on Auctions, Competition, Regulation, and Public Policy, Lancaster University, 2023†§