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The rise and fall of the polluter-pays principle in developing countries

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  • Luppi, Barbara
  • Parisi, Francesco
  • Rajagopalan, Shruti

Abstract

The polluter-pays principle stipulates that the person who damages the environment must bear the cost of such damage. A number of developing countries have recently extended this principle to create an obligation on the state to compensate the victims of environmental harm. This variation of the polluter-pays principle is aimed at ensuring victims’ compensation when polluters cannot be identified or are insolvent and at providing stronger incentives for local governments’ monitoring of environmentally risky activities. These regimes hold local governments primarily or jointly-and-severally liable for environmental damage and allow them to act in subrogation against the polluters. In this paper we study the effect of these forms of governmental liability on the polluters’ incentives and on aggregate levels of environmental harm. We develop an economic model to study the conditions under which governmental liability may be preferable to direct polluters’ liability as an instrument of environmental protection. We conclude by suggesting that these variations of the polluter-pays regime may be desirable in environments characterized by widespread poverty, high interest rates, judicial delays and uncertainty in adjudication.

Suggested Citation

  • Luppi, Barbara & Parisi, Francesco & Rajagopalan, Shruti, 2012. "The rise and fall of the polluter-pays principle in developing countries," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 135-144.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:32:y:2012:i:1:p:135-144 DOI: 10.1016/j.irle.2011.10.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci & Gerrit De Geest, 2005. "Judgment Proofness under Four Different Precaution Technologies," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 161(1), pages 1-38, March.
    2. Hans-Bernd Schaefer, 2000. "The Bundling of Similar Interests in Litigation. The Incentives for Class Action and Legal Actions taken by Associations," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 183-213, May.
    3. Polinsky, A Mitchell, 1980. "Strict Liability vs. Negligence in a Market Setting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(2), pages 363-367, May.
    4. Shavell, S., 1986. "The judgment proof problem," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 45-58, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mizan R. Khan, 2015. "Polluter-Pays-Principle: The Cardinal Instrument for Addressing Climate Change," Laws, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 1-16, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Environmental protection; Polluter-pays principle; State liability;

    JEL classification:

    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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