Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Political Science

First Advisor

David Bearce

Second Advisor

Edward Scott Adler

Third Advisor

Murat Iyigun


Do environmental provisions actually have an effect on the environmental quality of a state? Trade and the environment have a complicated relationship, as states don’t have a concrete way to resolve environmental issues that are associated with gains from trade—increased avenues for pollution, threatened conservation efforts, and the lack of incentives to improve environmental quality threaten a state’s abilities to address environmental threats. However, the inclusion of environmental provisions in preferential trade agreements provides both an economic and legal incentive to improve environmental quality. In this paper, I argue that environmental provisions have a positive quantitative effect on the environmental quality of the state. Numerous qualitative studies lend support to the hypothesis, but a large-N quantitative study has never been attempted to establish a general link. This was tested using a multivariate regression on a led variable. The results showed that environmental provisions actually had a negative effect on the environmental quality of the state, due to what was theorized as a weak commitment to environmental improvements and the negative effects of trade on the environment. The lead on the variables was also tested, and showed that as the lead increased, the coefficients increase and the effect of environmental provisions have a larger positive effect on the environmental quality as time increases between measurement and the agreement coming into force.