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Spatial Heterogeneity and the Choice of Instruments to Control Nonpoint Pollution

  • Wu, JunJie
  • Babcock, Bruce A.

Because it is difficult to monitor emissions and to implement differential taxes and standards, uniform taxes and standards on agricultural chemical use are often proposed and used to control nonpoint-source pollution. This article analyzes the relative efficiency of these uniform instruments in the presence of spatial heterogeneity. We show that the relative slopes of the marginal pollution cost and marginal profit of chemical use are only one of the factors that affect the relative efficiency. Other factors include correlation between marginal pollution costs and marginal profits and the slope and variability of marginal profits. In addition, a uniform tax may result in some farmers not using the chemical, and a uniform standard may have no effect on low-input land. We show empirically that the presence of corner solutions can reverse a conventional finding of tax or standard superiority based on the relative-slop rule.

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Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 1012.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2001
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Environmental and Resource Economics 2001, vol. 18, pp. 173-192
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:1012
Contact details of provider: Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.edu
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  1. Stavins, Robert N., 1996. "Correlated Uncertainty and Policy Instrument Choice," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 218-232, March.
  2. Babcock, Bruce A. & Blackmer, Alfred M., 1992. "The Value Of Reducing Temporal Input Nonuniformities," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 17(02), December.
  3. Bouzaher, Aziz & Lakshminarayan, P. G. & Cabe, Richard & Carriquiry, Alicia L. & Gassman, Philip W. & Shogren, Jason F., 1993. "Metamodels and Nonpoint Pollution Policy in Agriculture," Staff General Research Papers 531, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. Adar, Zvi & Griffin, James M., 1976. "Uncertainty and the choice of pollution control instruments," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 178-188, October.
  5. Thomas W. Hertel & Kyle Stiegert & Harry Vroomen, 1996. "Nitrogen-Land Substitution in Corn Production: A Reconciliation of Aggregate and Firm-Level Evidence," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(1), pages 30-40.
  6. Segerson, Kathleen, 1988. "Uncertainty and incentives for nonpoint pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 87-98, March.
  7. Xepapadeas, A. P., 1991. "Environmental policy under imperfect information: Incentives and moral hazard," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 113-126, March.
  8. Taylor, Michael L. & Adams, Richard M. & Miller, Stanley F., 1992. "Farm-Level Response To Agricultural Effluent Control Strategies: The Case Of The Willamette Valley," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 17(01), July.
  9. Xepapadeas, A. P., 1995. "Observability and choice of instrument mix in the control of externalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 485-498, March.
  10. Dasgupta, Partha & Hammond, Peter & Maskin, Eric, 1980. "On Imperfect Information and Optimal Pollution Control," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(5), pages 857-60, October.
  11. JunJie Wu & Bruce A. Babcock, 1996. "Contract Design for the Purchase of Environmental Goods from Agriculture," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(4), pages 935-945.
  12. Roberts, Marc J. & Spence, Michael, 1976. "Effluent charges and licenses under uncertainty," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(3-4), pages 193-208.
  13. Malcomson, James M, 1978. "Prices vs. Quantities: A Critical Note on the Use of Approximations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(1), pages 203-07, February.
  14. Fishelson, Gideon, 1976. "Emission control policies under uncertainty," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 189-197, October.
  15. Wu, JunJie & Mapp, Harry P., Jr. & Bernardo, Daniel J., 1994. "A Dynamic Analysis Of The Impact Of Water Quality Policies On Irrigation Investment And Crop Choice Decisions," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 26(02), December.
  16. Babcock, Bruce A. & Blackmer, A. M., 1992. "Value of Reducing Temporal Input Nonuniformities (The)," Staff General Research Papers 10587, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  17. Yohe, Gary W., 1976. "Substitution and the control of pollution : A comparison of effluent charges and quantity standards under uncertainty," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 312-324, December.
  18. Kwerel, Evan, 1977. "To Tell the Truth: Imperfect Information and Optimal Pollution Control," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 595-601, October.
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