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Subsidies to Industry and the Environment

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  • David Kelly

Abstract

Governments support particular firms or sectors by granting low interest financing, reduced regulation, tax relief, price supports, monopoly rights, and a variety of other subsidies. Previous work in partial equilibrium shows that subsidies to environmentally sensitive industries increases output and pollution emissions. We examine the environmental effects of subsidies in general equilibrium. Since all resources are used, whether or not subsidies increase emissions depends on the relative emissions intensity and incentives to emit of the subsidized industry versus the emissions intensity and the incentives to emit of the industry which would otherwise use the resources. Since subsidies must move resources to a less productive use, the economy wide marginal product of emissions falls with an increase in any subsidy, tending to decrease emissions. On the other hand, subsidies tend to move resources to more emissions intensive industries. Thus, subsidies increase pollution emissions if resources are moved to an industry for which emissions intensity is high enough to overcome the reduction in emissions caused by lower overall marginal product of emissions. We show that, under general conditions, subsidies also increase the interest rate, thus causing the economy to over-accumulate capital. Steady state emissions then rise, even if emissions fall in the short run. We also derive an optimal second best environmental policy given industrial subsidies. The results indicate that, under reasonable conditions, subsidies raise the opportunity cost of environmental quality in the long run. Finally, we examine the relationship between growth and the environment with subsidies. Under more restrictive conditions, reducing some subsidies may offer a path to sustainable development by raising income and at the same time improving the environment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14999.

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Date of creation: May 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14999

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References

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  1. Sherry Bartz & David L. Kelly, 2006. "Economic Growth and the Environment: Theory and Facts," Working Papers 0601, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  2. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2006. "Will International Rules on Subsidies Disrupt the World Trading System?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 877-895, June.
  3. Xiangkang Yin, 1999. "A Dynamic Analysis of Overstaff in China's State-Owned Enterprises," Working Papers 1999.03, School of Economics, La Trobe University.
  4. Hua Wang & Yanhong Jin, 2002. "Industrial ownership and environmental performance : evidence from China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2936, The World Bank.
  5. Claustre Bajona & David L. Kelly, 2005. "Trade and the Environment with Pre-existing Subsidies: A Dynamic General Equilibrium Analysis," Working Papers 0603, University of Miami, Department of Economics, revised 01 Mar 2006.
  6. Datta, Manjira & Mirman, Leonard J. & Reffett, Kevin L., 2002. "Existence and Uniqueness of Equilibrium in Distorted Dynamic Economies with Capital and Labor," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(2), pages 377-410, April.
  7. Pargal, Sheoli & Wheeler, David, 1996. "Informal Regulation of Industrial Pollution in Developing Countries: Evidence from Indonesia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1314-27, December.
  8. Sebastian Galiani & Paul Gertler & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2005. "Water for Life: The Impact of the Privatization of Water Services on Child Mortality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 83-120, February.
  9. Hua Wang & Mamingi, Nlandu & Laplante, Benoit & Dasgupta, Susmita, 2002. "Incomplete enforcement of pollution regulation : bargaining power of Chinese factories," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2756, The World Bank.
  10. Loren Brandt & Xiaodong Zhu, 2000. "Redistribution in a Decentralized Economy: Growth and Inflation in China under Reform," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 422-451, April.
  11. A. Lans Bovenberg & Lawrence H. Goulder, 1994. "Optimal Environmental Taxation in the Presence of Other Taxes: General Equilibrium Analyses," NBER Working Papers 4897, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. van Beers, Cees & van den Bergh, Jeroen C. J. M., 2001. "Perseverance of perverse subsidies and their impact on trade and environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 475-486, March.
  13. Dietrich Earnhart & Lubomir Lizal, 2002. "Effects of Ownership and Financial Status on Corporate Environmental Performance," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp203, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
  14. Parry, Ian W. H., 1997. "Environmental taxes and quotas in the presence of distorting taxes in factor markets," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 203-220, August.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Again: tax, do not subsidize
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-06-05 08:16:00
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Cited by:
  1. Bajona, Claustre & Kelly, David L., 2012. "Trade and the environment with pre-existing subsidies: A dynamic general equilibrium analysis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 253-278.
  2. Mukherjee, Sacchidananda & Chakraborty, Debashis, 2013. "Negative Influence of Fiscal Subsidies on Environment: Empirical Evidence from Cross-Country Estimation," Working Papers 13/117, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.

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