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Environmental Labeling

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  • Andrea Podhorsky

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    (York University, Toronto)

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    Abstract

    This paper studies how information disclosed by voluntary environmental labels creates incentives for firms to invest in environmentally-friendly production technologies. I develop a model with differentiated products and imperfectly-informed consumers. Consumers care about the environmental characteristics of goods (for example, how they were produced), but cannot directly observe these product characteristics. Firms differ in their abilities to develop "clean" technologies, but have no incentive to do so absent government regulation or a policy that provides information to consumers. A scheme of voluntary labels, awarded to firms that achieve some chosen level of environmental friendliness, gives some firms enough incentive to develop clean technologies, while others choose to produce "dirty" goods. Each consumer is individually ineffective in reducing aggregate environmental damage but consumers purchase products according to how they privately value environmental quality. I parameterize the relationship between the environmental quality consumers experience privately from their own consumption of a product and the intensity of its environmental damage. I use the model to explain how voluntary labels improve consumer welfare and characterize the welfare maximizing labeling standard. I also contrast the effects of a labeling program on consumer welfare with those of compulsory environmental regulation.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by York University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2009_3.

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    Length: 39 pages
    Date of creation: Dec 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:yca:wpaper:2009_3

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    Related research

    Keywords: credence goods; disclosure; environmental policy; firm heterogeneity and product labeling.;

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    1. Petrakis Emmanuel & Sartzetakis Eftichios Sophocles & Xepapadeas Anastasios, 2005. "Environmental Information Provision as a Public Policy Instrument," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-33, November.
    2. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
    3. Franklin Allen, 1984. "Reputation and Product Quality," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(3), pages 311-327, Autumn.
    4. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 0042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
    6. Erzo G. J. Luttmer, 2007. "Selection, Growth, and the Size Distribution of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1103-1144, 08.
    7. Nimon, R. Wesley & Beghin, John C., 1998. "Are Eco-Labels Valuable? Evidence From The Apparel Industry," 1998 Annual meeting, August 2-5, Salt Lake City, UT 21016, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    8. Bjorner, Thomas Bue & Hansen, L.G.Lars Garn & Russell, Clifford S., 2004. "Environmental labeling and consumers' choice--an empirical analysis of the effect of the Nordic Swan," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 411-434, May.
    9. Lucie Bottega & Jenny De Freitas, 2009. "Public, private and nonprofit regulation for environmental quality," DEA Working Papers 33, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Departament d'Economía Aplicada.
    10. Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "The Informational Role of Warranties and Private Disclosure about Product Quality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 461-83, December.
    11. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
    12. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
    13. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    14. Carl Shapiro, 1982. "Consumer Information, Product Quality, and Seller Reputation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 20-35, Spring.
    15. Teisl, Mario F. & Roe, Brian & Hicks, Robert L., 2002. "Can Eco-Labels Tune a Market? Evidence from Dolphin-Safe Labeling," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 339-359, May.
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