Leaders and laggards in environmental policy: a quantitative analysis of domestic policy outputs

D. Liefferink, B. Arts, J. Kamstra, J. Ooijevaar

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69 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the domestic characteristics of 'leaders' and 'laggards' in environmental policy in 21 European countries as well as the USA, Mexico and Japan from 1970. Data with regard to environmental policy strength are related to a set of potentially explanatory domestic factors. By way of the so-called gap approach, the distance or gap between current policy in a given country and the strictest policy available in the sample at the time is established. This is done for 40 environmental policy issues in all 24 countries and at four points in time (1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000). Mean country gaps for each point in time provide a picture of changing 'leaders' and 'laggards' in environmental policy, conforming only partly to conventional wisdom. Apparently, the international reputation of environmental 'pioneers' is not always matched by equally ambitious domestic policies. Statistical analysis identifies EU membership as the most important factor explaining a strong domestic policy output, whereas environmental problem pressure, institutional structure (neo-corporatism) and the level of economic development appear to be of secondary importance
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-700
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • corporatism
  • democracies
  • performance

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