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An Efficiency Approach to the Evaluation of Policy Changes

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  • Coate, Stephen

Abstract

This paper describes an efficiency approach to the evaluation of policy changes. Rather than comparing the utility allocations that arise before and after a policy change is introduced, this approach evaluates a policy change by comparing it with other possible changes which might be made from the status quo. The main merit of the approach is that it is founded on the Pareto criterion rather than on a distributional value judgment. The paper provides a precise statement of the approach and applies it to a number of examples. Some objections to the approach are also anticipated and discussed.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 110 (2000)
Issue (Month): 463 (April)
Pages: 437-55

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:110:y:2000:i:463:p:437-55

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  1. Guesnerie, Roger & Roberts, Kevin, 1984. "Effective Policy Tools and Quantity Controls," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 59-86, January.
  2. Bullock, David S, 1995. "Are Government Transfers Efficient? An Alternative Test of the Efficient Redistribution Hypothesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1236-74, December.
  3. Allen, Stephen P, 1987. "Taxes, Redistribution, and the Minimum Wage: A Theoretical Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 477-89, August.
  4. Charles Blackorby & David Donaldson, 1990. "A Review Article: The Case against the Use of the Sum of Compensating Variations in Cost-Benefit Analysis," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 23(3), pages 471-94, August.
  5. Boadway, Robin & Cuff, Katherine, 2001. "A minimum wage can be welfare-improving and employment-enhancing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 553-576, March.
  6. Robin Boadway & Michael Keen, 1991. "Public Goods, Self-Selection and Optimal Income Taxation," Working Papers 828, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  7. Weymark, John A., 1981. "Undominated directions of tax reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 343-369, December.
  8. Peter A. Diamond & J. A. Mirrlees, 1968. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production," Working papers 22, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Dexit, A. & Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1996. "Common Agency and Coordination: General Theory and Application to Tax Policy," Papers 11-96, Tel Aviv.
  10. Dreze, Jean & Stern, Nicholas, 1987. "The theory of cost-benefit analysis," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 14, pages 909-989 Elsevier.
  11. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . ""An Economic Model of Representative Democracy''," CARESS Working Papres 95-02, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  12. Boadway, Robin W, 1974. "The Welfare Foundations of Cost-Benefit Analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 84(336), pages 926-39, December.
  13. Richard Harris, 1976. "Efficient Commodity Taxation," Working Papers 243, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  14. Dixit, Avinash & Norman, Victor, 1986. "Gains from trade without lump-sum compensation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1-2), pages 111-122, August.
  15. Harberger, Arnold C, 1978. "On the Use of Distributional Weights in Social Cost-Benefit Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(2), pages S87-120, April.
  16. Guesnerie, Roger & Roberts, Kevin, 1987. "Minimum wage legislation as a second best policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 490-498.
  17. Mirrlees, James A, 1972. "On Producer Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(1), pages 105-11, January.
  18. Dasgupta, Partha & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1972. "On Optimal Taxation and Public Production," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(1), pages 87-103, January.
  19. Coate, Stephen & Morris, Stephen, 1995. "On the Form of Transfers in Special Interests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1210-35, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Stanley L. Winer & Walter Hettich, 2002. "The Political Economy of Taxation: Positive and Normative Analysis when Collective Choice Matters," Carleton Economic Papers 02-11, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 2004.
  2. Jean-François, MERTENS & Anna, RUBINCHIK, 2008. "Intergenerational equity and the discount rate for cost-benefit analysis," Discussion Papers (ECON - Département des Sciences Economiques) 2008047, Université catholique de Louvain, Département des Sciences Economiques.
  3. Callan, Tim & Keeney, Mary J. & Nolan, Brian & Walsh, John R., 2001. "Reforming Tax and Welfare," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS42, September.
  4. John M. Gowdy, 2004. "Toward a New Welfare Foundation for Sustainability," Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics 0401, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics.
  5. Gowdy, John, 2005. "Toward a new welfare economics for sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 211-222, April.
  6. Robin Boadway, 2010. "Efficiency and Redistribution: An Evaluative Review of Louis Kaplow's The Theory of Taxation and Public Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(4), pages 964-79, December.
  7. Daniel Bromley, 2004. "Reconsidering Environmental Policy: Prescriptive Consequentialism and Volitional Pragmatism," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 28(1), pages 73-99, May.

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