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Double informational asymmetry, signaling, and environmental taxes

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This paper examines the effect of signaling on environmental taxation when each polluter privately knows whether its production cost is low or high, whereas third parties (i.e. the rival firms and the regulator) have only a subjective perception on such a cost. Consequently, there is both horizontal and vertical asymmetric information, and each polluting firm can strategically manipulate both the competitor and the policymaker's prior cost perceptions. We show that if the policymaker's ecological conscience is sufficiently high, polluters wish to be perceived as low-cost firms and, to this end, they will produce a high output level and they will emit a high emissions level. Therefore, optimal pollution taxes are higher than would be the case if firms' costs were not signaled in such a manner as to force low-cost polluters, in an attempt to distinguish themselves from high-cost polluters (by increasing their output level and their emissions level), to reduce the distortions in their production and also in their emissions levels. By contrast, if the policymaker values environmental quality less than consumption, environmental taxes become negative (a subsidy per unit of pollutant emitted), but each polluting firm continues to attempt to convince the other players (the rival firm and the regulator) that it is a low-cost supplier. In this case, if the quantity produced by each polluter signals its costs, over-subsiding holds as compared to the benchmark case of non-signaling.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centro de Estudios Andaluces in its series Economic Working Papers at Centro de Estudios Andaluces with number E2005/25.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cea:doctra:e2005_25

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Keywords: Polluting firms; horizontal and vertical asymmetric information; signaling and non-signaling; environmental taxes;

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  1. R. Simpson, 1995. "Optimal pollution taxation in a Cournot duopoly," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 6(4), pages 359-369, December.
  2. Kreps, David M & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Sequential Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 863-94, July.
  3. Fredrik Carlsson, 2000. "Environmental Taxation and Strategic Commitment in Duopoly Models," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 15(3), pages 243-256, March.
  4. Buchanan, James M, 1969. "External Diseconomies, Corrective Taxes, and Market Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 174-77, March.
  5. Lee, Sang-Ho, 1999. "Optimal Taxation for Polluting Oligopolists with Endogenous Market Structure," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 293-308, May.
  6. Ulph, Alistair, 1996. "Environmental Policy and International Trade when Governments and Producers Act Strategically," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 265-281, May.
  7. Kennedy Peter W., 1994. "Equilibrium Pollution Taxes in Open Economies with Imperfect Competition," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 49-63, July.
  8. Joanna Poyago-Thotoky, 2003. "Optimal Environmental Taxation, R&D Subsidization and the Role of Market Conduct," Finnish Economic Papers, Finnish Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 15-26, Spring.
  9. Ronnie Schöb, 2003. "The Double Dividend Hypothesis of Environmental Taxes: A Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 946, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. F. Barigozzi & B. Villeneuve, 2004. "The signaling effect of tax policy," Working Papers 500, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  11. Barnett, A H, 1980. "The Pigouvian Tax Rule under Monopoly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 1037-41, December.
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