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Distributional Effects of Environmental and Energy Policy: An Introduction

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  • Don Fullerton

Abstract

This chapter reviews literature on the distributional effects of environmental and energy policy. In particular, many effects of such policy are likely regressive. First, it raises the price of fossil-fuel-intensive products, expenditures on which are a high fraction of low-income budgets. Second, if abatement technologies are capital-intensive, then any mandate to abate pollution may induce firms to use more capital. If demand for capital is raised relative to labor, then a lower relative wage may also hurt low-income households. Third, pollution permits handed out to firms bestow scarcity rents on well-off individuals who own those firms. Fourth, low-income individuals may place more value on food and shelter than on incremental improvements in environmental quality. If high-income individuals get the most benefit of pollution abatement, then this effect is regressive as well. Fifth, low-income renters miss out on house price capitalization of air quality benefits. Well-off landlords may reap those gains. Sixth, transition effects could well hurt the unemployed who are already at some disadvantage. These six effects might all hurt the poor more than the rich. This paper discusses whether these fears are valid, and whether anything can be done about them.

Suggested Citation

  • Don Fullerton, 2008. "Distributional Effects of Environmental and Energy Policy: An Introduction," NBER Working Papers 14241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14241
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Grösche & Carsten Schröder, 2014. "On the redistributive effects of Germany’s feed-in tariff," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 46(4), pages 1339-1383, June.
    2. Don Fullerton, 2009. "Does Environmental Protection Hurt Low-Income Families?," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 10(1), pages 45-49, April.
    3. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 1-22, May.
    4. Katri Kosonen, 2012. "Regressivity of environmental taxation: myth or reality?," Taxation Papers 32, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
    5. Dominik Bernhofer & Romana Brait, 2011. "Die Verteilungswirkungen der Mineralölsteuer in Österreich," Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft - WuG, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik, vol. 37(1), pages 69-93.
    6. repec:clr:wugarc:y:2011:v:37i:1p:69 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Janet Currie, 2011. "Ungleichheiten bei der Geburt: Einige Ursachen und Folgen," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(s1), pages 42-65, May.
    8. Martin Beznoska & Johanna Cludius & Viktor Steiner, 2012. "The Incidence of the European Union Emissions Trading System and the Role of Revenue Recycling: Empirical Evidence from Combined Industry- and Household-Level Data," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1227, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    9. Pereira, Alfredo & Pereira, Rui, 2017. "The Role of Electricity for the Decarbonization of the Portuguese Economy - DGEP Technical Report," MPRA Paper 84782, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Cludius, Johanna & Beznoska, Martin & Steiner, Viktor, 2012. "Distributional effects of the European Emissions Trading System and the role of revenue recycling: Empirical evidence from combined industry- and household-level data," Discussion Papers 2012/6, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects

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