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The Incidence of Pollution Control Policies

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  • Ian W.H. Parry
  • Hilary Sigman
  • Margaret Walls
  • Roberton C. Williams III

Abstract

This paper reviews theoretical and empirical literature on the household distribution of the costs and benefits of pollution control policies, and ways of integrating distributional issues into environmental cost/benefit analysis. Most studies find that policy costs fall disproportionately on poorer groups, though this is less pronounced when lifetime income is used, and policies affect prices of inputs used pervasively across the economy. The policy instrument itself is also critical; freely allocated emission permits may hurt the poor the most, as they transfer income to shareholders via scarcity rents created by higher prices, while emissions taxes offer opportunities for progressive revenue recycling. And although low-income households appear to bear a disproportionate share of environmental risks, policies that reduce risks are not always progressive, for example, they may alter property values in ways that benefit the wealthy. The review concludes by noting a number of areas where future research is badly needed.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11438.

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Date of creation: Jun 2005
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Publication status: published as Tietenberg, Tom and Henk Folmer (eds.) International Yearbook of Environmental and Resource Economics 2006/2007. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2006.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11438

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Cited by:
  1. Corbett A. Grainger & Charles D. Kolstad, 2009. "Who Pays a Price on Carbon?," NBER Working Papers 15239, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. repec:hal:wpaper:hal-00866409 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Abdelkrim Araar & Yazid Dissou & Jean-Yves Duclos, 2008. "Household Incidence of Pollution Control Policies: a Robust Welfare Analysis Using General Equilibrium Effects," Cahiers de recherche 0809, CIRPEE.
  4. repec:hal:ciredw:hal-00866409 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," NBER Working Papers 16798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Burtraw, Dallas & Sweeney, Richard & Walls, Margaret, 2009. "The Incidence of U.S. Climate Policy: Alternative Uses of Revenues from a Cap-and-Trade Auction," Discussion Papers dp-09-17-rev, Resources For the Future.
  7. Coxhead, Ian & Wattanakuljarus, Anan & Nguyen, Chan V., 2013. "Are Carbon Taxes Good for the Poor? A General Equilibrium Analysis for Vietnam," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 119-131.
  8. Burtraw, Dallas & Sweeney, Richard & Walls, Margaret, 2008. "The Incidence of U.S. Climate Policy: Where You Stand Depends on Where You Sit," Discussion Papers dp-08-28, Resources For the Future.
  9. Eskeland, Gunnar S. & Mideksa, Torben K., 2008. "Transportation fuel use, technology and standards: The role of credibility and expectations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4695, The World Bank.
  10. Don Fullerton, 2008. "Distributional Effects of Environmental and Energy Policy: An Introduction," NBER Working Papers 14241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Aldy, Joseph E. & Ley, Eduardo & Parry, Ian W.H., 2008. "A Tax-Based Approach to Slowing Global Climate Change," Discussion Papers dp-08-26, Resources For the Future.
  12. Kverndokk, Snorre & Rose, Adam, 2008. "Equity and Justice in Global Warming Policy," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 2(2), pages 135-176, October.
  13. Parry, Ian W.H. & Timilsina, Govinda R., 2009. "Pricing externalities from passenger transportation in Mexico city," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5071, The World Bank.
  14. Matthew Riddle & James Boyce, 2007. "Cap and Dividend: How to Curb Global Warming while Protecting the Incomes of American Families," Working Papers wp150, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  15. Coxhead, Ian & Chan, Nguyen Van, 2011. "Vietnam's New Environmental Tax Law: What Will It Cost? Who Will Pay?," Staff Paper Series 561, University of Wisconsin, Agricultural and Applied Economics.
  16. Anni Huhtala & Eija Pouta, 2009. "Benefit Incidence of Public Recreation Areas—Have the Winners Taken Almost All?," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 43(1), pages 63-79, May.
  17. Grainger, Corbett A., 2012. "The distributional effects of pollution regulations: Do renters fully pay for cleaner air?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 840-852.

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