Equity over Efficiency: A Problem of Credibility in Scaling Resource-Based Compensatory?
Resource-based compensation aims to offset the public's welfare loss associated with environmental injuries. Compensatory payments are frequently scaled using Equivalency Analysis (EA). EA's focus on ensuring equity in utility terms for the victim may lead to an inefficient outcome for society as it fails to incorporate the social opportunity cost of the compensatory payment. An alternative scaling approach based on Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) may better address the trade-offs facing society by considering the social marginal benefits of additional compensation, which may be a function of the cost of provision and the quality of existing resources. A simple numerical model illustrates the differences in scaling approaches. In contrast to EA, CBA suggests that the optimal compensatory payment may be positive, zero or negative (i.e., additional damage should be allowed). EA need not lead to a decline in welfare if the environmental damage or the costs of compensation are marginal, or if policy makers have a particular welfare function in mind vis a vis the polluter. The lack of credible methods for pricing non-market resources may lead to a preference by policy makers for the equity-focused EA approach rather than one aiming for socially efficient outcomes. Both methods require inevitable value judgments to determine whether society is, in fact, "no worse off" following compensation. EA seems in conflict with governments' otherwise increasing, but still limited, use of environmental CBA to direct scarce conservation resources to a variety of environmental challenges.
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Riera, Pere, 2008. "Does the equivalency analysis of the European Environmental Liability Directive pass a social cost-benefit analysis test?," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 225-226, November.
- Nicholas E. Flores & Jennifer Thacher, 2002. "Money, Who Needs It? Natural Resource Damage Assessment," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(2), pages 171-178, 04.
- Daly, Herman E., 1992. "Allocation, distribution, and scale: towards an economics that is efficient, just, and sustainable," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 185-193, December.
- R. Turner, 2007. "Limits to CBA in UK and European environmental policy: retrospects and future prospects," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 253-269, May.
- Unsworth, Robert E. & Bishop, Richard C., 1994. "Assessing natural resource damages using environmental annuities," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 35-41, September.
- Boyd, James & Wainger, Lisa, 2003. "Measuring Ecosystem Service Benefits: The Use of Landscape Analysis to Evaluate Environmental Trades and Compensation," Discussion Papers dp-02-63, Resources For the Future.
- Carol A. Jones & Katherine A. Pease, 1997. "Restoration-Based Compensation Measures In Natural Resource Liability Statutes," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 15(4), pages 111-122, October.
- Roach, Brian & Wade, William W., 2006. "Policy evaluation of natural resource injuries using habitat equivalency analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 421-433, June.
- Dunford, Richard W. & Ginn, Thomas C. & Desvousges, William H., 2004. "The use of habitat equivalency analysis in natural resource damage assessments," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 49-70, January.
- Norton-Griffiths, Michael & Southey, Clive, 1995. "The opportunity costs of biodiversity conservation in Kenya," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 125-139, February.
- Ferraro Paul J & Taylor Laura O, 2005. "Do Economists Recognize an Opportunity Cost When They See One? A Dismal Performance from the Dismal Science," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-14, September.
- George R. Parsons & Ami K. Kang, 2010. "Compensatory Restoration In A Random Utility Model Of Recreation Demand," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(4), pages 453-463, October.
- Richard Carson & Robert Mitchell & Michael Hanemann & Raymond Kopp & Stanley Presser & Paul Ruud, 2003. "Contingent Valuation and Lost Passive Use: Damages from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 25(3), pages 257-286, July.
- Joseph Persky, 2001. "Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Classical Creed," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 199-208, Fall.
- Zafonte, Matthew & Hampton, Steve, 2007. "Exploring welfare implications of resource equivalency analysis in natural resource damage assessments," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 134-145, February.
- William S. Breffle & Robert D. Rowe, 2002. "Comparing Choice Question Formats for Evaluating Natural Resource Tradeoffs," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 78(2), pages 298-314.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:slucer:2012_012. 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: (Mona Bonta Bergman)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.