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Environmental Policy and Misallocation: The Productivity Effect of Intensity Standards

  • Trevor Tombe

    (University of Calgary)

  • Jennifer Winter

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 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 these productivity losses can be large.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Calgary in its series Working Papers with number 2013-29.

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Date of creation: 23 Apr 2015
Date of revision: 23 Apr 2015
Handle: RePEc:clg:wpaper:2013-29
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  1. Restuccia, Diego & Yang, Dennis Tao & Zhu, Xiaodong, 2008. "Agriculture and aggregate productivity: A quantitative cross-country analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 234-250, March.
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  3. Bohringer, Christoph & Rutherford, Thomas F., 1997. "Carbon Taxes with Exemptions in an Open Economy: A General Equilibrium Analysis of the German Tax Initiative," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 189-203, February.
  4. R. Simpson, 1995. "Optimal pollution taxation in a Cournot duopoly," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 6(4), pages 359-369, December.
  5. Shaffer, Sherrill, 1995. "Optimal Linear Taxation of Polluting Oligopolists," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 85-100, January.
  6. Newell, Richard G & Stavins, Robert N, 2003. "Cost Heterogeneity and the Potential Savings from Market-Based Policies," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 43-59, January.
  7. Dissou, Yazid & Mac Leod, Carolyn & Souissi, Mokhtar, 2002. "Compliance costs to the Kyoto Protocol and market structure in Canada: a dynamic general equilibrium analysis," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 24(7-8), pages 751-779, November.
  8. Xiaodong Zhu & Trevor Tombe & Loren Brandt, 2011. "Factor Market Distortions Across Time, Space and Sectors in China," 2011 Meeting Papers 1301, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Simonovska, Ina; Waugh, Michael E., 2010. "The Elasticity of Trade: Estimates & Evidence," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 13, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  10. Santosh Kumar Sahu & Krishnan Narayanan, 2011. "Total Factor Productivity and Energy Intensity in Indian Manufacturing: A Cross-Sectional Study," International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, Econjournals, vol. 1(2), pages 47-58, September.
  11. Buchanan, James M, 1969. "External Diseconomies, Corrective Taxes, and Market Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 174-77, March.
  12. Don Fullerton & Andrew Leicester & Stephen Smith, 2008. "Environmental Taxes," NBER Working Papers 14197, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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