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The Curious Treatment of the Coase Theorem in the Environmental Economics Literature, 1960--1979

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  • Steven G. Medema

Abstract

This article examines the first two decades of the history of the Coase theorem in environmental economics, a period during which the theorem's validity was widely acknowledged but its relevance for economic analysis of environmental issues was almost universally dismissed. The repeated claims of the theorem's irrelevance and its dismissive treatment in the literature raise the question of why environmental economists were so interested in the Coase theorem in the first place. Several explanations are offered here including the roots of environmental economic theory in the theory of externalities, economists' fascination with the interesting and challenging theoretical puzzle posed by the theorem, and the normative and ideological thrust that permeated discussions of the theorem, both within and outside the field of environmental economics. (JEL: B20, D62, K32, Q50, R11) Copyright 2014, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven G. Medema, 2014. "The Curious Treatment of the Coase Theorem in the Environmental Economics Literature, 1960--1979," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 8(1), pages 39-57, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:renvpo:v:8:y:2014:i:1:p:39-57
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/reep/ret020
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Romaniuc, Rustam, 2017. "Intrinsic motivation in economics: A history," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 56-64.
    2. Nathalie Berta, 2016. "On the definition of externality as a missing market," Post-Print halshs-01277990, HAL.
    3. Nathalie Berta, 2016. "On the definition of externality as a missing market," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01277990, HAL.
    4. Steven G. Medema, 2020. "The Coase Theorem at Sixty," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 58(4), pages 1045-1128, December.
    5. Nathalie Berta, 2017. "On the definition of externality as a missing market," Post-Print hal-02095696, HAL.
    6. Nathalie Berta, 2016. "On the definition of externality as a missing market," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 16007, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    7. Kuehn, Daniel, 2021. "James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, and the “Radically Irresponsible” One Person, One Vote Decisions," OSF Preprints zetq4, Center for Open Science.
    8. Banzhaf, H. Spencer, 2016. "Constructing markets: environmental economics and the contingent valuation controversy," MPRA Paper 78814, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Berta, Nathalie, 2020. "Efficiency without Optimality: A Pragmatic Compromise for Environmental Policies in the Late 1960s," OSF Preprints wp2xf, Center for Open Science.
    10. Ian A. MacKenzie & Markus Ohndorf, 2014. "Coasean Bargaining in the Presence of Pigouvian Taxation: Revisiting the Buchanan-Stubblebine-Turvey Theorem," Discussion Papers Series 515, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    11. Gary D. Libecap, 2016. "Coasean Bargaining to Address Environmental Externalities," NBER Working Papers 21903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. MacKenzie, Ian A. & Ohndorf, Markus, 2016. "Coasean bargaining in the presence of Pigouvian taxation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 1-11.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B20 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - General
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

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