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Policy Analysis in a Second-Best World

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  • Parry, Ian

    ()
    (Resources for the Future)

  • Oates, Wallace

    ()
    (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

This paper first describes the new literature in environmental economics on the so-called "double dividend" and then explores its implications for a broad range of economic issues. The basic finding in this literature is that in a second-best, general equilibrium setting, environmental measures raise costs and prices and thereby reduce the real wage. This rise in the cost of living reduces slightly the quantity of labor supplied in an already highly distorted labor market, giving rise to losses in social welfare that can be large relative to the basic welfare gains from improved environmental policy. These losses may be offset to some extent by using revenues (if any) from the environmental programs to reduce existing taxes on labor. This same line of analysis applies to many programs and institutions in the economy that raise the cost of living: tariffs and quotas on imports, agricultural price-support programs, monopoly pricing, programs of occupational licensure that limit entry, and many others. The paper thus suggests that traditional, partial equilibrium benefit-cost analysis has, in many instances, unwittingly omitted a potentially quite significant class of social costs from the calculations.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-98-48.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 1998
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-98-48

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References

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  1. Ian W. H. Parry & Roberton C. Williams III & Lawrence H. Goulder, 1997. "When Can Carbon Abatement Policies Increase Welfare? The Fundamental Role of Distorted Factor Markets," NBER Working Papers 5967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jorgenson, Dale W. & Wilcoxen, Peter J., 1993. "Reducing US carbon emissions: an econometric general equilibrium assessment," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 7-25, March.
  3. Bovenberg, A Lans & van der Ploeg, Frederick, 1992. "Environmental Policy, Public Finance and the Labour Market in a Second-best World," CEPR Discussion Papers 745, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Parry, Ian, 1998. "The Costs of Restrictive Trade Policies in the Presence of Factor Tax Distortions," Discussion Papers dp-98-37, Resources For the Future.
  5. Bovenberg, A. Lans & Goulder, Lawrence H., 1997. "Costs of Environmentally Motivated Taxes in the Presence of Other Taxes: General Equilibrium Analyses," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 50(1), pages 59-88, March.
  6. Bovenberg, A Lans & Goulder, Lawrence H, 1996. "Optimal Environmental Taxation in the Presence of Other Taxes: General-Equilibrium Analyses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 985-1000, September.
  7. Don Fullerton & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 1997. "Environmental Controls, Scarcity Rents, and Pre-Existing Distortions," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9703, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  8. Bovenberg, A Lans & de Mooij, Ruud A, 1997. "Environmental Levies and Distortionary Taxation: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 252-53, March.
  9. 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.
  10. Bovenberg, A.L. & Mooij, R.A. de, 1994. "Environmental levies and distortionary taxation," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-152985, Tilburg University.
  11. Browning, Edgar K, 1987. "On the Marginal Welfare Cost of Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 11-23, March.
  12. Browning, Edgar K., 1997. "A neglected welfare cost of monopoly--and most other product market distortions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 127-144, October.
  13. A. Lans Bovenberg & Lawrence H. Goulder, 1995. "Costs of Environmentally Motivated Taxes in the Presence of Other Taxes:General Equilibrium Analyses," NBER Working Papers 5117, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Parry Ian W. H., 1995. "Pollution Taxes and Revenue Recycling," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages S64-S77, November.
  15. Williams III, Roberton C., 1999. "Revisiting the cost of protectionism:: The role of tax distortions in the labor market," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 429-447, April.
  16. Pearce, David W, 1991. "The Role of Carbon Taxes in Adjusting to Global Warming," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 938-48, July.
  17. Sandmo, Agnar, 1976. "Optimal taxation : An introduction to the literature," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 37-54.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Parry, Ian W H & Bento, Antonio, 2001. " Revenue Recycling and the Welfare Effects of Road Pricing," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 103(4), pages 645-71, December.
  2. Raúl O'Ryan & Sebastian Miller & Carlos J. de Miguel, 2001. "Environmental Taxes, Inefficient Subsidies and Income Distribution in Chile: A CGE framework," Documentos de Trabajo 98, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  3. Ian Parry, 2001. "The Costs of Restrictive Trade Policies in the Presence of Factor Tax Distortions," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 147-170, March.
  4. Parry, Ian & Bento, Antonio, 1999. "Tax Deductible Spending, Environmental Policy, and the "Double Dividend" Hypothesis," Discussion Papers dp-99-24, Resources For the Future.
  5. O'Ryan, Raúl & de Miguel, Carlos J. & Miller, Sebastian & Munasinghe, Mohan, 2005. "Computable general equilibrium model analysis of economywide cross effects of social and environmental policies in Chile," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 447-472, September.
  6. Haucap, Justus & Schwalbe, Ulrich, 2011. "Economic principles of state aid control," DICE Discussion Papers 17, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  7. Dasgupta, Basab & Lall, Somik V., 2006. "Assessing benefits of slum upgrading programs in second-best settings," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3993, The World Bank.
  8. Bosquet, Benoit, 2000. "Environmental tax reform: does it work? A survey of the empirical evidence," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 19-32, July.

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