Sustainability at multiple scales: interactions between environment, economic and social indicators at the country, city and manufacturing facility scale

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Jordan, Benjamin Raines
Noonan, Douglas S.
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The simplicity of the Environmental Kuznets (EKC) curve concept motivated this study of the relationships between environmental, economic and social indicators at the country, city/regional and manufacturing facility scale. The study builds on almost 20 years of research on the EKC, which has shown conflicting results for confirmation of the EKC hypothesis that the environment first degrades, then improves, with increasing economic wealth. Most EKC studies use country-scale income or GDP as the primary economic indicator of interest; this study experiments with city/regional GDP at the local scale and a country-scale "market maturity" indicator commonly used by the corporation studied. The manufacturing facility scale analysis is new territory in the EKC literature. Firm-scale studies in the past have been just that, evaluating firm environmental performance across a specific industry. This effort evaluates manufacturing facility performance within the same firm across a set of 21 countries of interest to the corporation. This study is unique in a few other ways. Including multiple scales in the same study is not common in the EKC literature. Typically, a study would focus on one or a few indicators at one specific scale. The actual environmental and social outcome variables used here are also somewhat unique. Generally speaking, the results reported here will fall into the "mixed" bucket relative to the 20 years of existing EKC literature; however, a possible research platform is established based on the possible nesting of multiple scales within the same research effort.
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