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Subsidies to Industry and the Environment

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  • David Kelly

Abstract

Governments support particular firms or sectors by granting low interest financing, reduced regulation, tax relief, price supports, monopoly rights, and a variety of other subsidies. Previous work in partial equilibrium shows that subsidies to environmentally sensitive industries increases output and pollution emissions. We examine the environmental effects of subsidies in general equilibrium. Since all resources are used, whether or not subsidies increase emissions depends on the relative emissions intensity and incentives to emit of the subsidized industry versus the emissions intensity and the incentives to emit of the industry which would otherwise use the resources. Since subsidies must move resources to a less productive use, the economy wide marginal product of emissions falls with an increase in any subsidy, tending to decrease emissions. On the other hand, subsidies tend to move resources to more emissions intensive industries. Thus, subsidies increase pollution emissions if resources are moved to an industry for which emissions intensity is high enough to overcome the reduction in emissions caused by lower overall marginal product of emissions. We show that, under general conditions, subsidies also increase the interest rate, thus causing the economy to over-accumulate capital. Steady state emissions then rise, even if emissions fall in the short run. We also derive an optimal second best environmental policy given industrial subsidies. The results indicate that, under reasonable conditions, subsidies raise the opportunity cost of environmental quality in the long run. Finally, we examine the relationship between growth and the environment with subsidies. Under more restrictive conditions, reducing some subsidies may offer a path to sustainable development by raising income and at the same time improving the environment.

Suggested Citation

  • David Kelly, 2009. "Subsidies to Industry and the Environment," NBER Working Papers 14999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14999
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hua Wang & Nlandu Mamingi & Benoit Laplante & Susmita Dasgupta, 2003. "Incomplete Enforcement of Pollution Regulation: Bargaining Power of Chinese Factories," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 24(3), pages 245-262, March.
    2. Sebastian Galiani & Paul Gertler & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2005. "Water for Life: The Impact of the Privatization of Water Services on Child Mortality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 83-120, February.
    3. Earnhart, Dietrich & Lizal, Lubomir, 2002. "Effects of Ownership and Financial Status on Corporate Environmental Performance," CEPR Discussion Papers 3557, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Datta, Manjira & Mirman, Leonard J. & Reffett, Kevin L., 2002. "Existence and Uniqueness of Equilibrium in Distorted Dynamic Economies with Capital and Labor," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(2), pages 377-410, April.
    5. Greenwood Jeremy & Huffman Gregory W., 1995. "On the Existence of Nonoptimal Equilibria in Dynamic Stochastic Economies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 611-623, April.
    6. Pargal, Sheoli & Wheeler, David, 1996. "Informal Regulation of Industrial Pollution in Developing Countries: Evidence from Indonesia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1314-1327, December.
    7. John W. Maxwell & Rafael Reuveny (ed.), 2005. "Trade and Environment," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3687, June.
    8. Bajona, Claustre & Kelly, David L., 2012. "Trade and the environment with pre-existing subsidies: A dynamic general equilibrium analysis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 253-278.
    9. Parry, Ian W. H., 1997. "Environmental taxes and quotas in the presence of distorting taxes in factor markets," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 203-220, August.
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    11. Bovenberg, A.L. & Goulder, L.H., 1996. "Optimal environmental taxation in the presence of other taxes : General equilibrium analyses," Other publications TiSEM 5d4b7517-c5c8-4ef6-ab76-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    12. Loren Brandt & Xiaodong Zhu, 2000. "Redistribution in a Decentralized Economy: Growth and Inflation in China under Reform," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 422-451, April.
    13. Hua Wang & Yanhong Jin, 2007. "Industrial Ownership and Environmental Performance: Evidence from China," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 36(3), pages 255-273, March.
    14. Bartz, Sherry & Kelly, David L., 2008. "Economic growth and the environment: Theory and facts," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 115-149, May.
    15. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2006. "Will International Rules on Subsidies Disrupt the World Trading System?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 877-895, June.
    16. van Beers, Cees & van den Bergh, Jeroen C. J. M., 2001. "Perseverance of perverse subsidies and their impact on trade and environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 475-486, March.
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    1. Again: tax, do not subsidize
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-06-05 13:16:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Mukherjee, Sacchidananda & Chakraborty, Debashis, 2013. "Negative Influence of Fiscal Subsidies on Environment: Empirical Evidence from Cross-Country Estimation," Working Papers 13/117, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
    2. Bajona, Claustre & Kelly, David L., 2012. "Trade and the environment with pre-existing subsidies: A dynamic general equilibrium analysis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 253-278.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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