IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Environmental Regulation and Productivity: Evidence from Oil Refineries


  • Eli Berman


  • Linda T.M. Bui



We examine the effect of air quality regulation on productivity in some of the most heavily regulated manufacturing plants in the United States, the oil refineries of the Los Angeles (South Coast) Air Basin. We use direct measures of local air pollution regulation to estimate their effects on abatement investment. Refineries not subject to these regulations are used as a comparison group. We study a period of sharply increased regulation between 1979 and 1992. Initial compliance with each regulation cost $3 million per plant and a further $5 million to comply with increased stringency. We construct measures of total factor productivity using Census of Manufacturers output and materials data that report physical quantities of inputs and outputs for the entire population of refineries. Despite high costs associated with the local regulations, productivity in the Los Angeles Air Basin refineries rose sharply between 1987 and 1992, which was a period of decreased refinery productivity in other regions. We conclude that abatement cost measures may grossly overstate the economic cost of environmental regulation as abatement can increase productivity. © 2001 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Eli Berman & Linda T.M. Bui, 1998. "Environmental Regulation and Productivity: Evidence from Oil Refineries," Papers 0091, Boston University - Industry Studies Programme.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:bostin:0091

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Berman, Eli & Bui, Linda T. M., 2001. "Environmental regulation and labor demand: evidence from the South Coast Air Basin," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 265-295, February.
    2. Dale W. Jorgenson & Peter J. Wilcoxen, 1990. "Environmental Regulation and U.S. Economic Growth," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(2), pages 314-340, Summer.
    3. Christainsen, Gregory B. & Haveman, Robert H., 1981. "The contribution of environmental regulations to the slowdown in productivity growth," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 381-390, December.
    4. Roberts, Mark J. & Supina, Dylan, 1996. "Output price, markups, and producer size," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 909-921, April.
    5. Avinash K. Dixit & Robert S. Pindyck, 1994. "Investment under Uncertainty," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 5474, June.
    6. Barbera, Anthony J. & McConnell, Virginia D., 1990. "The impact of environmental regulations on industry productivity: Direct and indirect effects," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 50-65, January.
    7. Gollop, Frank M & Roberts, Mark J, 1983. "Environmental Regulations and Productivity Growth: The Case of Fossil-Fueled Electric Power Generation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 654-674, August.
    8. Hahn, Robert W, 1989. "Economic Prescriptions for Environmental Problems: How the Patient Followed the Doctor's Orders," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 95-114, Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fth:bostin:0091. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Krichel). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.