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Environmental policy and misallocation: The productivity effect of intensity standards

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  • Tombe, Trevor
  • Winter, Jennifer

Abstract

Firm-level idiosyncratic policy distortions misallocate resources between firms, lowering aggregate productivity. Many environmental policies create such distortions; in particular, output-based intensity standards (which limit firms energy use or emissions per unit of output) are easier for high-productivity firms to achieve. We investigate the productivity effect of intensity standards using a tractable general-equilibrium model featuring multiple sectors and firm-level heterogeneity. Qualitatively, we demonstrate that intensity standards are always inferior to uniform taxes, as they misallocate both dirty and clean inputs across firms and sectors, which lowers productivity. Quantitatively, we calibrate the model to US data and show that these productivity losses can be large.

Suggested Citation

  • Tombe, Trevor & Winter, Jennifer, 2015. "Environmental policy and misallocation: The productivity effect of intensity standards," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 137-163.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:72:y:2015:i:c:p:137-163 DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2015.06.002
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    Cited by:

    1. Andersen, Dana C., 2016. "Accounting for Firm Exit and Loss of Variety in the Welfare Cost of Regulations," Working Papers 2016-9, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    2. Manish Pandey & Wenbiao Cai, 2016. "Regulation under Financial Frictions: A Quantitative Analysis of Taxes versus Tradable Permits," Departmental Working Papers 2016-01, The University of Winnipeg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Energy intensity; Energy tax; Productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook

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