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Publisher: Journals Gateway
The Review of Economics and Statistics (2001) 83 (2): 281–289.
Published: 01 May 2001
AbstractView article PDF
Previous studies that attempt to relate environmental to financial performance have often led to conflicting results due to small samples and subjective environmental performance criteria. We report on a study that relates the market value of firms in the S&P 500 to objective measures of their environmental performance. After controlling for variables traditionally thought to explain firm-level financial performance, we find that bad environmental performance is negatively correlated with the intangible asset value of firms. The average ‘intangible liability’ for firms in our sample is $380 million—approximately 9% of the replacement value of tangible assets. We conclude that legally emitted toxic chemicals have a significant effect on the intangible asset value of publicly traded companies. A 10% reduction in emissions of toxic chemicals results in a $34 million increase in market value. The magnitude of these effects varies across industries, with larger losses accruing to the traditionally polluting industries.