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The influence of financial status on the effectiveness of environmental enforcement

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  • Earnhart, Dietrich
  • Segerson, Kathleen

Abstract

This paper analyzes the influence of financial status on the effectiveness of environmental enforcement. It considers multiple dimensions of both enforcement and financial status. Regarding enforcement, the paper considers both the likelihood of enforcement, as captured by the likelihood of inspections conducted at regulated facilities, and the severity of enforcement, as captured by the size of sanctions imposed on polluting facilities found violating their effluent limits. As indicators of corporate financial status, the paper considers measures of liquidity, solvency, and profitability [a proxy for corporate managerial skill], all of which can influence the likelihood that a firm faces liquidity and/or bankruptcy constraints. The paper first develops a theoretical model of optimal abatement in the presence of liquidity and bankruptcy constraints and uses the model to investigate the impact of financial status on optimal abatement and the effectiveness of enforcement. Then the paper empirically examines the interactions between enforcement and financial status using data on wastewater discharges from US chemical manufacturing facilities for the years 1995 to 2001. Empirical results suggest that the financial status dimensions considered here in general play an important role in determining the incentives created by enforcement. As the most striking result, we show theoretically and empirically that, when financial dimensions are included in the analysis, the conventional wisdom regarding the effect of enforcement likelihood on abatement no longer holds, i.e., increased enforcement can actually lead to worse environmental performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Earnhart, Dietrich & Segerson, Kathleen, 2012. "The influence of financial status on the effectiveness of environmental enforcement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 670-684.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:96:y:2012:i:9:p:670-684
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2012.05.002
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    Cited by:

    1. Dietrich Earnhart & Paul J. Ferraro, 2021. "The Effect of Peer Comparisons on Polluters: A Randomized Field Experiment among Wastewater Dischargers," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 79(4), pages 627-652, August.
    2. Raff, Zach & Earnhart, Dietrich, 2019. "The effects of Clean Water Act enforcement on environmental employment," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 1-17.
    3. Earnhart, Dietrich & Friesen, Lana, 2021. "Use of competitive endogenous audit mechanisms by federal and state inspectors within environmental protection agencies," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 109(C).
    4. Casini, Paolo & Valentini, Edilio, 2019. "Emissions Markets with Price Stabilizing Mechanisms: Possible Unpleasant Outcomes," ES: Economics for Sustainability 291801, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) > ES: Economics for Sustainability.
    5. Mathilde Maurel & Thomas Pernet & Zhao Ruili, 2019. "Financial Dependencies, Environmental Regulation, and Pollution Intensity: Evidence From China," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 19029, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    6. Peter Maniloff, 2016. "Bayesian Learning and Regulatory Deterrence: Evidence from Oil and Gas Production," Working Papers 2016-04, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.
    7. Alm, James & Shimshack, Jay, 2014. "Environmental Enforcement and Compliance: Lessons from Pollution, Safety, and Tax Settings," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 10(4), pages 209-274, December.
    8. Dietrich Earnhart & Dylan G. Rassier, 2016. "“Effective regulatory stringency” and firms’ profitability: the effects of effluent limits and government monitoring," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 111-145, October.
    9. Zach Raff & Dietrich Earnhart, 2018. "Effect Of Cooperative Enforcement Strategies On Wastewater Management," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 56(2), pages 1357-1379, April.
    10. Romero Rocha & Juliano Assunção & Clarissa Gandou, 2014. "Amazon Monitoring And Deforestation Slowdown: The Priority Municipalities," Anais do XLI Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 41st Brazilian Economics Meeting] 197, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    11. Earnhart, Dietrich, 2020. "Stated choices of environmental managers: The role of punishment," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    12. Andersen, Dana C., 2017. "Do credit constraints favor dirty production? Theory and plant-level evidence," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 189-208.
    13. Earnhart, Dietrich & Friesen, Lana, 2017. "The Effects of Regulated Facilities' Perceptions About the Effectiveness of Government Interventions on Environmental Compliance," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 282-294.
    14. Assunção, Juliano & Rocha, Romero, 2019. "Getting greener by going black: the effect of blacklisting municipalities on Amazon deforestation," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 115-137, April.
    15. Earnhart, Dietrich & Harrington, Donna Ramirez, 2014. "Effect of audits on the extent of compliance with wastewater discharge limits," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 243-261.
    16. Zach Raff & Dietrich Earnhart, 2020. "The effect of environmental enforcement on labor: environmental workers and production workers," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 57(2), pages 118-133, April.
    17. Dana C. Andersen, 2020. "Default Risk, Productivity, and the Environment: Theory and Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 75(4), pages 677-710, April.
    18. Mathilde Maurel & Thomas Pernet & Zhao Ruili, 2019. "Financial Dependencies, Environmental Regulation and Pollution Intensity: Evidence From China," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-02423350, HAL.
    19. Mathilde Maurel & Thomas Pernet & Zhao Ruili, 2019. "Financial Dependencies, Environmental Regulation and Pollution Intensity: Evidence From China," Post-Print halshs-02423350, HAL.
    20. Dietrich Earnhart & Lana Friesen, 2021. "Enforcement Federalism: Comparing the Effectiveness of Federal Punishment versus State Punishment," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 78(2), pages 227-255, February.
    21. Ben White, 2015. "Do control rights determine the optimal extension of liability to investors? The case of environmental policy for mines," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 48(1), pages 26-52, August.

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