NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Increased Wealth Leads to Improved Health

July 2, 2003

Studies show that wealthier populations demand, and achieve, cleaner environments. The 2002 Economic Freedom of the World Report, published by the Fraser Institute, consistently ranks countries with cleaner environments among the wealthiest and the freest.

However, in a survey of student perceptions about the environment, researchers found that not all students are aware of the link between economic freedom and environmental protection.

  • While most students cited water quality, global warming or air quality as their top environmental worries, one percent of those polled said that over consumption and rampant consumerism were the greatest environmental issues facing Canada.
  • Fifty percent said that they believed economic growth leads to environmental deterioration.
  • While 53 percent said that trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) hurt environmental quality.

However, recent studies prove that as income increases, so does environmental quality. As economic growth and life expectancy in a country increase, clean air and a sound environment become high priorities for its citizens, and they are more likely to pay out of pocket for environmental protection. Furthermore, trade agreements, because they encourage economic growth, lead to environmental improvement.

Source: Liv Fredricksen and Kenneth Green, "A Freer Planet is a Cleaner Planet," Fraser Forum, May 2003.


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