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Indexed Regulation

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  • Richard G. Newell
  • William A. Pizer

Abstract

Seminal work by Weitzman (1974) revealed prices are preferred to quantities when marginal benefits are relatively flat compared to marginal costs. We extend this comparison to indexed policies, where quantities are proportional to an index, such as output. We find that policy preferences hinge on additional parameters describing the first and second moments of the index and the ex post optimal quantity level. When the ratio of these variables' coefficients of variation divided by their correlation is less than approximately two, indexed quantities are preferred to fixed quantities. A slightly more complex condition determines when indexed quantities are preferred to prices. Applied to climate change policy, we find that the range of variation and correlation in country-level carbon dioxide emissions and GDP suggests the ranking of an emissions intensity cap (indexed to GDP) compared to a fixed emission cap is not uniform across countries; neither policy clearly dominates the other.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard G. Newell & William A. Pizer, 2008. "Indexed Regulation," NBER Working Papers 13991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13991 Note: EEE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin L. Weitzman, 1974. "Prices vs. Quantities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(4), pages 477-491.
    2. Suzi Kerr & Richard G. Newell, 2003. "Policy-Induced Technology Adoption: Evidence from the U.S. Lead Phasedown," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 317-343, September.
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    6. Lars E. O. Svensson, 2003. "What Is Wrong with Taylor Rules? Using Judgment in Monetary Policy through Targeting Rules," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(2), pages 426-477, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C68 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computable General Equilibrium Models
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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