Does the digital finance revolution validate the Environmental Kuznets Curve? Empirical findings from China

Kaiyang Zhong, Ming Zhang
2022 PLoS ONE  
In recent years, digital finance has become a crucial part of the financial system and reshaped the mode of green finance in China. Digital finance has brought certain impact on economic growth, industrial structure, and resident income, which may affect pollution. The nexus of digital finance and environment in China is thus worth exploring. By revising the traditional Environmental Kuznets Curve model with income inequality variable, this paper decomposes the environmental effects of economic
more » ... activities into income growth effect, industrial structure effect and income inequality effect, and use panel data of China's provinces to conduct an empirical analysis. The results reveal the following: (1) the Environmental Kuznets Curve is still valid in sample, and digital finance can reduce air and water pollution (as measured through SO2 and COD emission) directly; (2) in the influence mechanism, digital finance can alleviate income inequality and promote green industrial structure, thus reducing pollution indirectly, but the scale effect of income growth outweighs the technological effect, which increases pollution indirectly; and (3) digital finance has a threshold effect on improving the environment, then an acceleration effect appears after a certain threshold value. From the regional perspective, digital finance development in eastern regions is generally ahead of central and western regions, and the effects of environmental improvement in the eastern regions are greater. According to the study, this paper suggest that digital finance can be an effective way to promote social sustainability by alleviating income inequality and environmental sustainability by reducing pollution.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0257498 pmid:35025871 pmcid:PMC8758091 fatcat:p4venhykznchpebowplh736iyu