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Prices vs. Quantities vs. Tradable Quantities

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  • Roberton Williams

Abstract

This paper extends Weitzman's (1974) seminal paper comparing price and quantity instruments for regulation to consider a third option: tradable quantity regulations, such as tradable permits. Contrary to what prior work has suggested, fixed quantities may be more efficient than tradable quantities if the regulated goods are not perfect substitutes, even when trading ratios are based on the ratio of expected marginal benefits between goods, not simply one-for-one. Indeed, when benefits are independent across goods, or when the goods are complements, tradable quantities are never the most efficient instrument. This theory is applied to dynamic pollution problems, and suggests that permit banking should be allowed for stock pollutants, but not for flow pollutants. These results indicate that many regulations, including the current sulfur dioxide trading program and proposed greenhouse gas regulations, are inefficient.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberton Williams, 2002. "Prices vs. Quantities vs. Tradable Quantities," NBER Working Papers 9283, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9283
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Fell, Harrison & MacKenzie, Ian A. & Pizer, William A., 2012. "Prices versus quantities versus bankable quantities," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 607-623.
    2. Simon Luechinger & Stephan Meier & Alois Stutzer, 2010. "Why Does Unemployment Hurt the Employed?: Evidence from the Life Satisfaction Gap Between the Public and the Private Sector," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(4), pages 998-1045.
    3. Pezzey, John C.V. & Jotzo, Frank, 2010. "Tax-Versus-Trading and Free Emission Shares as Issues for Climate Policy Design," Research Reports 95049, Australian National University, Environmental Economics Research Hub.
    4. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Pizer, William A., 2006. "The Economics of Climate Change," Discussion Papers dp-06-06, Resources For the Future.
    5. Anthony Heyes & Sandeep Kapur, 2011. "Regulating altruistic agents," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(1), pages 227-246, February.
    6. Juan-Pablo Montero, 2005. "Pollution Markets with Imperfectly Observed Emissions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(3), pages 645-660, Autumn.
    7. Jussi Lintunen & Olli-Pekka Kuusela, 2015. "Optimal Management of Markets for Bankable Emission PermitsOptimal Management of Markets for Bankable Emission Permits," Working Papers 2015.48, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    8. Liu, Yang & Han, Liyan & Yin, Ziqiao & Luo, Kongyi, 2017. "A competitive carbon emissions scheme with hybrid fiscal incentives: The evidence from a taxi industry," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 414-422.
    9. Webster, Mort & Sue Wing, Ian & Jakobovits, Lisa, 2010. "Second-best instruments for near-term climate policy: Intensity targets vs. the safety valve," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 250-259, May.
    10. Richard Newell & William Pizer & Jiangfeng Zhang, 2005. "Managing Permit Markets to Stabilize Prices," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 31(2), pages 133-157, June.
    11. Holland, Stephen P. & Yates, Andrew J., 2015. "Optimal trading ratios for pollution permit markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 16-27.
    12. Oberauner, Iris Maria, 2010. "Prices vs. Quantities: An Empirical Study of Firms' Instrument Choice," Working papers 2010/07, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    13. Oikonomou, Vlasis & Jepma, Catrinus & Becchis, Franco & Russolillo, Daniele, 2008. "White Certificates for energy efficiency improvement with energy taxes: A theoretical economic model," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 3044-3062, November.
    14. repec:eee:eecrev:v:101:y:2018:i:c:p:397-417 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Ian A. MacKenzie, 2015. "Prices versus quantities with distributional rent seeking," Discussion Papers Series 548, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    16. repec:kap:pubcho:v:171:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0401-8 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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