Universität Bonn

Department of Economics

Emilio Bisetti - Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

„Smokestacks and the Swamp“, together with Stefan Lewellen, Arkodipta Sarkar & Xiao Zhao


We examine the causal effect of politicians' partisan ideologies on firms' industrial pollution decisions. Using a regression discontinuity design involving close U.S. congressional elections, we show that plants increase pollution and invest less in abatement following close Republican wins. We also find evidence of reallocation: firms shift emissions away from areas represented by Democrats. However, costs rise and M/B ratios decline for firms whose representation becomes more Democratic, suggesting that politicians' ideological demands can be privately costly. Pollution-related illnesses spike around plants in Republican districts, suggesting that firms' pass-through of politicians' ideologies can have real consequences for local communities.

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