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A Natural Experiment on the 'Race to the Bottom' Hypothesis: Testing for Stochastic Dominance in Temporal Pollution Trends

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  • Daniel L. Millimet
  • John A. List

Abstract

Devolution of tasks to local levels of government has recently become a popular agenda item within certain political factions in the US. While one expects the local policymaker to tailor policies to match the preferences of his constituents, critics of local policymaking claim that externalities are ignored and inefficiencies thus arise under local control of certain policies. A primary example concerns the control of pollution, which is known to have adverse effects on neighbouring jurisdictions. Whether localities actually 'race to the bottom' and enact lax environmental policies when given the chance remains an open issue. In this study, we make use of stochastic dominance tests to examine if President Reagan's policy of 'New Federalism' in the early 1980s induced states to lower environmental standards. Among the several environmental measures analysed, we do not find any evidence that the 'race to the bottom' materialized. Indeed, the evidence shows that even during these lean years of federal intervention several indicators of environmental quality at the state level continued to improve.
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  • Daniel L. Millimet & John A. List, 2003. "A Natural Experiment on the 'Race to the Bottom' Hypothesis: Testing for Stochastic Dominance in Temporal Pollution Trends," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 65(4), pages 395-420, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:obuest:v:65:y:2003:i:4:p:395-420
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    1. Michael Greenstone, 2002. "The Impacts of Environmental Regulations on Industrial Activity: Evidence from the 1970 and 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments and the Census of Manufactures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1175-1219, December.
    2. Fisher, Gordon & Willson, Douglas & Xu, Kuan, 1998. "An empirical analysis of term premiums using significance tests for stochastic dominance," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 195-203, August.
    3. Zodrow, George R. & Mieszkowski, Peter, 1986. "Pigou, Tiebout, property taxation, and the underprovision of local public goods," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 356-370, May.
    4. Wilson, John D., 1986. "A theory of interregional tax competition," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 296-315, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kunce, Mitch & Shogren, Jason F., 2007. "Destructive interjurisdictional competition: Firm, capital and labor mobility in a model of direct emission control," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 543-549, January.
    2. Levinson, Arik, 2003. "Environmental Regulatory Competition: A Status Report and Some New Evidence," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 56(1), pages 91-106, March.
    3. Herath, Deepananda P.B. & Weersink, Alfons & Thrikawala, Sunil, 2006. "Environmental Regulations and Livestock Production Levels: What is the Direction of Causality?," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21482, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    4. Banzhaf, H. Spencer & Chupp, B. Andrew, 2012. "Fiscal federalism and interjurisdictional externalities: New results and an application to US Air pollution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(5), pages 449-464.
    5. B. Andrew Chupp, 2011. "Spillovers and Taxes: What Drives Strategic Competition in Environmental Policies?," Working Paper Series 20110402, Illinois State University, Department of Economics.
    6. Jay Shimshack, 2004. "Are Mercury Advisories Effective? Inofrmation, Education, and Fish Consumption," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0423, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    7. Millimet, Daniel L., 2013. "Environmental Federalism: A Survey of the Empirical Literature," IZA Discussion Papers 7831, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Shimshack, Jay P. & Ward, Michael B. & Beatty, Timothy K.M., 2007. "Mercury advisories: Information, education, and fish consumption," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 158-179, March.
    9. María A. García-Valiñas, 2004. "Environmental federalism: a proposal of decentralization," ERSA conference papers ersa04p492, European Regional Science Association.
    10. repec:eee:ecolec:v:147:y:2018:i:c:p:253-263 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Erwin Bulte & John A. List & Mark C. Strazicich, 2007. "Regulatory Federalism And The Distribution Of Air Pollutant Emissions," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 155-178.

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