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Beliefs, politics, and environmental policy

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  • Antony Millner
  • Hélène Ollivier

Abstract

The public often perceives environmental problems differently from the experts who study them. The regulatory response to these problems also often does not coincide with experts’ recommendations. These two facts are mutually consistent – it is unlikely that regulations based on factual claims that are substantially different from voters’ opinions would be political feasible. Given that the public’s beliefs constrain policy choices, it is vital to understand how they come about, whether they will be biased, and how the inevitable heterogeneity in people’s beliefs filters through the political system to affect policy. We survey recent theoretical and empirical work on individual inference, social learning, and the supply of information by the media, and identify the potential for biased beliefs to arise. We then examine the interaction between beliefs and politics. We ask whether national elections and votes in legislatures can be expected to result in accurate collective decisions, how heterogeneous beliefs may induce strategic political actors to alter their policy choices, and how persuasion by experts and lobbies affects the information at policy-makers’ disposal. We conclude by suggesting that the relationship between beliefs and policy choices is a relatively neglected aspect of the theory of environmental regulation, and a fruitful area for further research.

Suggested Citation

  • Antony Millner & Hélène Ollivier, 2015. "Beliefs, politics, and environmental policy," GRI Working Papers 203, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  • Handle: RePEc:lsg:lsgwps:wp203
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Stefano Carattini & Andrea Baranzini & Philippe Thalmann & Frédéric Varone & Frank Vöhringer, 2017. "Green Taxes in a Post-Paris World: Are Millions of Nays Inevitable?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 68(1), pages 97-128, September.
    3. Spyros Arvanitis & Michael Peneder & Christian Rammer & Tobias Stucki & Martin Wörter, 2016. "Competitiveness and ecological impacts of green energy technologies: firm-level evidence for the DACH region," KOF Working papers 16-420, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.

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