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Regulatory Reform, Capture, and the Regulatory Burden


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  • Dieter Helm


This paper provides a critique of broad aggregate proposals to reduce the regulatory burden. It argues that the public debate about regulatory reform and red tape is loose and general, with little regard for the complex ways in which regulation imposes costs and benefits on the economy. Although there are theoretical reasons to expect regulation to be in excess supply, there is little empirical analysis to link aggregate regulation with productivity and economic growth. Regulation is itself a public good, and many aspects of economic efficiency require regulation to address market failures. The main efficiency issues are better addressed through a disaggregated approach, focusing on when, where, and how to regulate, rather than on crude aggregate estimates of the total burden. The design of regulation needs to take account of regulatory capture, and it is argued that market-based instruments and independent regulatory bodies tend to reduce the scope for capture. The incentives and employment rules governing regulatory institutions are also discussed. In ignoring these disaggregated regulatory design problems, crude aggregate targets for the reduction of regulation, and rules such as 'one in, one out' may be counter-productive. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Review of Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 22 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (Summer)
Pages: 169-185

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:22:y:2006:i:2:p:169-185

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Cited by:
  1. Cameron Hepburn, 2006. "Regulation by Prices, Quantities, or Both: A Review of Instrument Choice," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(2), pages 226-247, Summer.
  2. Andrés J. Drew, 2010. "New rules, new politics, same actors – explaining policy change in the EU ETS," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 29, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  3. Kai Wegrich, 2009. "The administrative burden reduction policy boom in Europe: comparing mechanisms of policy diffusion," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 36536, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Harrison, Mark & Zaksauskienė, Inga, 2013. "Counter-Intelligence in a Command Economy," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 170, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  5. Ralph Chami & Connel Fullenkamp & Sunil Sharma, 2010. "A framework for financial market development," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 13(2), pages 107-135.
  6. Aad Correljé & Martijn Groenleer & Jasper Veldman, 2013. "Understanding institutional change: the development of institutions for the regulation of natural gas transportation systems in the US and the EU," RSCAS Working Papers 2013/07, European University Institute.
  7. repec:cge:warwcg:169 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Michael, Bryane & Gubin, Alexey, 2012. "Compliance Audit of Anti-Corruption Regulations: A Case Study from Carpatistan Customs," MPRA Paper 44693, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Lourdes Torres & Patricia Bachiller, 2013. "Efficiency of telecommunications companies in European countries," Journal of Management and Governance, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 863-886, November.


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