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The Regulator and the Judge : The Optimal Mix in The Control of Environmental Risk

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  • Yolande Hiriart
  • David Martimort
  • Jérôme Pouyet

Abstract

A firm engaged in activities which are environmentally risky has private informationboth on her choice of safety care and on the level of her assets. Public authorities havea stake in implementing a high level of prevention effort and in unveiling the true levelof assets for liability payments. We characterize the optimal second-best public policytowards risk prevention in this asymmetric information setup. This policy takes theform of monitoring both on safety care and on wealth, with probabilities of investigation supplemented with fines. The monitoring takes place both ex ante and ex post, i.e.,before or after an accident has taken place. We show that some sort of separationbetween the regulatory tasks and the legal intervention is called for : at the ex antestage, more resources should be allocated to the monitoring on ?technical? aspects ofthe underlying risk (i.e., the care exercised by the firm) than on ?financial? aspects (i.e.,the firm?s collectable wealth) ; at the ex post stage, monitoring should only concernfinancial aspects.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Dalloz in its journal Revue d'économie politique.

Volume (Year): Volume 118 (2008)
Issue (Month): 6 ()
Pages: 941-967

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Handle: RePEc:cai:repdal:redp_186_0941

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Web page: http://www.cairn.info/revue-d-economie-politique.htm

Related research

Keywords: Regulation; Liability; Environmental Risk; Asymmetric Information;

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References

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  1. Boyd, James, 2001. "Financial Responsibility for Environmental Obligations: Are Bonding and Assurance Rules Fulfilling Their Promise?," Discussion Papers dp-01-42, Resources For the Future.
  2. Hiriart, Yolande & Martimort, David & Pouyet, Jerome, 2004. "On the optimal use of ex ante regulation and ex post liability," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 231-235, August.
  3. Cohen, Mark A., 1986. "The costs and benefits of oil spill prevention and enforcement," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 167-188, June.
  4. Lewis, Tracy R & Sappington, David E M, 2000. "Contracting with Wealth-Constrained Agents," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(3), pages 743-67, August.
  5. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  6. Gale, Douglas & Hellwig, Martin, 1985. "Incentive-Compatible Debt Contracts: The One-Period Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 647-63, October.
  7. Hiriart, Yolande & Martimort, David & Pouyet, Jérôme, 2005. "The Public Management of Environmental Risk: Separating Ex Ante and Ex Post Monitors," CEPR Discussion Papers 4992, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Marcel Boyer & Donatella Porrini, 2000. "Law versus Regulation: A Political Economy Model of Instrument Choice in Environmental Policy," CIRANO Working Papers 2000s-57, CIRANO.
  9. Kolstad, Charles D & Ulen, Thomas S & Johnson, Gary V, 1990. "Ex Post Liability for Harm vs. Ex Ante Safety Regulation: Substitutes or Complements?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 888-901, September.
  10. Winand Emons, 1993. "The Provision of Environmental Protection Measures under Incomplete Information: An Introduction to the Theory of Mechanism Design," Diskussionsschriften dp9310, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  11. M. L. Weitzman, 1973. "Prices vs. Quantities," Working papers 106, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  12. Lewis, Tracy R & Sappington, David E M, 2001. "Optimal Contracting with Private Knowledge of Wealth and Ability," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 21-44, January.
  13. Marcel Boyer & Donatella Porrini, 2004. "Modelling the choice between regulation and liability in terms of social welfare," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 37(3), pages 590-612, August.
  14. David P. Baron & David Besanko, 1984. "Regulation, Asymmetric Information, and Auditing," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(4), pages 447-470, Winter.
  15. Robert Townsend, 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Staff Report 45, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  16. Ringleb, Al H & Wiggins, Steven N, 1990. "Liability and Large-Scale, Long-term Hazards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 574-95, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Angelova, Vera & Attanasi, Giuseppe & Hiriart, Yolande, 2012. "Relative Performance of Liability Rules: Experimental Evidence," TSE Working Papers 12-304, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Sep 2012.

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