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Imperfect Enforcement of Emissions Trading and Industry Welfare: A Laboratory Investigation

  • John K. Stranlund


    (Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • James J. Murphy


    (Department of Economics, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska)

  • John M. Spraggon


    (Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

This paper uses laboratory experiments to investigate the performance of emission permit markets when compliance is imperfectly enforced. In particular we examine deviations in observed aggregate payoffs and expected penalties from those derived from a model of risk-neutral payoff-maximizing firms. We find that the experimental emissions markets were reasonably efficient at allocating individual emission control choices despite imperfect enforcement and significant noncompliance. However, violations and expected penalties were lower than predicted when these are predicted to be high, but were about the same as predicted values when these values were predicted to be low. Thus, although a standard model of compliance with emissions trading programs tends to predict significantly higher violations than we observe when subjects have strong incentives to violate their emissions permits, individual emissions control responsibilities are distributed among firms as predicted.

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Paper provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2008-1.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dre:wpaper:2008-1
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  1. Torgler, Benno, 2002. " Speaking to Theorists and Searching for Facts: Tax Morale and Tax Compliance in Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(5), pages 657-83, December.
  2. Cason, Timothy N. & Gangadharan, Lata, 2006. "Emissions variability in tradable permit markets with imperfect enforcement and banking," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 199-216, October.
  3. Stranlund, John K. & Dhanda, Kanwalroop Kathy, 1999. "Endogenous Monitoring and Enforcement of a Transferable Emissions Permit System," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 267-282, November.
  4. Malik, Arun S, 1992. "Enforcement Costs and the Choice of Policy Instruments for Controlling Pollution," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(4), pages 714-21, October.
  5. Murphy, James J. & Stranlund, John K., 2007. "A laboratory investigation of compliance behavior under tradable emissions rights: Implications for targeted enforcement," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 196-212, March.
  6. Malik, Arun S., 1990. "Markets for pollution control when firms are noncompliant," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 97-106, March.
  7. Montgomery, W. David, 1972. "Markets in licenses and efficient pollution control programs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 395-418, December.
  8. Keeler, Andrew G., 1991. "Noncompliant firms in transferable discharge permit markets: Some extensions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 180-189, September.
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