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Does industry self-regulation reduce pollution? Responsible care in the chemical industry

Gamper-Rabindran, Shanti and Finger, Stephen R. (2010) Does industry self-regulation reduce pollution? Responsible care in the chemical industry. Working Paper. UNSPECIFIED. (Submitted)


Self-regulation programs, in which industry associations set membership codes beyond government regulations, are prevalent despite scarce evidence on their effectiveness. We
examine Responsible Care (RC) in the US chemical manufacturing sector, whose membership codes include pollution prevention, using our author-constructed panel database of 3,253 plants owned by 1,748 firms between 1988 and 2001. We instrument for a plant’s parent firm’s self-selection into the program, using: (i) the characteristics of other plants belonging to the same firm in our multi-plant sample; and (ii) firm participation in the industry association before the establishment of RC and sub-industry level RC participation in our full sample. We find that on average, plants owned by RC participating firms raise their toxicity-weighted pollution intensity by 12.6% to 17.1% relative to statistically-equivalent plants owned by non-RC participating firms. This estimated increase is large relative to the yearly 5% reduction in pollution intensity among all plants in our sample between 1988 and 2001. Moreover, RC did not reduce plant-level
pollution. These results caution against reliance on self-regulation programs modeled on the pre-2002 RC program that did not require third party certification and in those sectors that lack independent third party certification.


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Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Status: Submitted
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Finger, Stephen
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, or Units > Center for Industry Studies
Monograph Type: Working Paper
Date: 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Regulatory Economics
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Department: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs > Public and International Affairs
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility, self-regulation, voluntary programs, self-selection, greenwash, chemical industry
ISSN: 0922-680X
Official URL:
Related URLs:
Funders: National Science Foundation BCS 0351058, University of Pittsburgh’s Central Research Development Fund, Center for Social and Urban Research, Center for Race and Social Problems, European Union Center
Date Deposited: 29 Feb 2012 15:54
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2012 22:18


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