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Political Business Cycles and Environmental Performance


Quynh Nguyen (University of Bern, Switzerland)

This study examines the environmental impact of political business cycles in Vietnam's one-party regime, where elections mainly serve as a tool of upward accountability. Pressured to demonstrate economic performance to their political higher ups, local politicians use their discretionary power to sidestep environmental regulations to achieve economic growth at critical times with detrimental environmental consequences. Based on satellite-based measurements of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) for each electoral district of the Vietnam National Assembly (VNA) over three electoral cycles, we find evidence indicating the existence of an environmental political business cycle (EPBC). Merging this data with socio-demographic information of VNA members and firm-based panel data, we find that EPBC trends vary with the intensity of local officials' connection to central-level political leaders and businesses, respectively. However, findings from the latest VNA cycle suggest increased attention toward environmental goals, reflecting a shift in the policy prioritization of Vietnam's central political leadership.

About the speaker: Quynh Nguyen is an associate professor of Environmental Governance and Global Development at the Wyss Academy for Nature of the University of Bern (Switzerland). In her research and teaching, Quynh investigates the political and social implications of climate change and the far-reaching consequences of economic globalization processes. She is passionate about understanding how these dynamics shape the interactions between citizens and key actors within the realms of politics, society, and the economy, both at national and global levels. Quynh studied political science at the Freie Universität Berlin. During her doctoral studies at ETH Zurich, she was a visiting scholar at Georgetown University. Quynh was a postdoctoral fellow at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University prior to her appointment as assistant professor at the Australian National University.

This talk will be livestreamed (but not recorded) via Zoom.