IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Is There a Principle of Targeting in Environmental Taxation?


  • Jianquiao Liu

    () (Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON)

  • Leslie Shiell

    () (Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON)


We test whether the principle of targeting (alternatively Sandmo’s (1975) additivity property and Kopczuk’s (2003) decomposition involving the Pigovian rule) has relevance for environmental taxation in a second best world consisting of an exogenous revenue requirement and pre-existing distortionary taxes. In the context of differentiated commodity taxes, we find that Sandmo’s additivity property breaks down once one solves explicitly for the marginal cost of public funds (MCPF). Further, in the more realistic setting of a uniform commodity tax and a dedicated emissions tax, we find that the additivity property no longer holds even in the form Sandmo studied it, i.e. without solving explicitly for the MCPF. Finally, we argue that Koczuk’s decomposition is not persuasive, as it requires that a second government agency must apply a corrective tax or subsidy to adjust the choice of the Pigovian rule by the environmental agency. In a same-numbers exercise (i.e. the number of tax instruments is not increased), we show that there is no presumption in favour of a direct emissions tax over a uniform commodity tax; rather, the choice depends upon the size of the environmental damages. We conclude that there does not exist a principle of targeting in environmental taxation.

Suggested Citation

  • Jianquiao Liu & Leslie Shiell, 2011. "Is There a Principle of Targeting in Environmental Taxation?," Working Papers 1102E, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ott:wpaper:1102e

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Devashish Mitra & Vitor Trindade, 2005. "Inequality and trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(4), pages 1253-1271, November.
    2. Brent Hueth & Tigran Melkonyan, 2009. "Standards and the regulation of environmental risk," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 219-246, December.
    3. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1994. "North-South Trade and the Global Environment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 851-874, September.
    4. Brooks, Nancy & Sethi, Rajiv, 1997. "The Distribution of Pollution: Community Characteristics and Exposure to Air Toxics," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 233-250, February.
    5. Louis Hotte & Stanley L. Winer, 2008. "The Demands for Environmental Regulation and for Trade in the Presence of Private Mitigation," Working Papers 0810E, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
    6. Seema Jayachandran, 2009. "Air Quality and Early-Life Mortality: Evidence from Indonesia’s Wildfires," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(4).
    7. Murdoch, James C & Sandler, Todd & Sargent, Keith, 1997. "A Tale of Two Collectives: Sulphur versus Nitrogen Oxides Emission Reduction in Europe," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 64(254), pages 281-301, May.
    8. John A. List & Daniel M. Sturm, 2006. "How Elections Matter: Theory and Evidence from Environmental Policy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1249-1281.
    9. McKitrick, Ross & Collinge, Robert A., 2002. "The Existence and Uniqueness of Optimal Pollution Policy in the Presence of Victim Defense Measures," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 106-122, July.
    10. Fredriksson, Per G. & Neumayer, Eric & Damania, Richard & Gates, Scott, 2005. "Environmentalism, democracy, and pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 343-365, March.
    11. Markusen, James R., 2013. "Putting per-capita income back into trade theory," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 255-265.
    12. Congleton, Roger D, 1992. "Political Institutions and Pollution Control," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 412-421, August.
    13. James E. Anderson & J. Peter Neary, 2005. "Measuring the Restrictiveness of International Trade Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262012200, July.
    14. Dasgupta, Susmita & Hamilton, Kirk & Pandey, Kiran D. & Wheeler, David, 2006. "Environment During growth: Accounting for governance and vulnerability," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(9), pages 1597-1611, September.
    15. Kahn, Matthew E & Matsusaka, John G, 1997. "Demand for Environmental Goods: Evidence from Voting Patterns on California Initiatives," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(1), pages 137-173, April.
    16. McAusland, Carol, 2003. "Voting for pollution policy: the importance of income inequality and openness to trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 425-451, December.
    17. Corden, W.M., 1984. "The normative theory of international trade," Handbook of International Economics,in: R. W. Jones & P. B. Kenen (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 63-130 Elsevier.
    18. Hanna, Brid Gleeson, 2007. "House values, incomes, and industrial pollution," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 100-112, July.
    19. Rosado, Marcia A. & Cunha-E-S , Maria A. & Ducla-Soares, Maria M. & Nunes, Luis C., 2006. "Combining averting behavior and contingent valuation data: an application to drinking water treatment in Brazil," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(06), pages 729-746, December.
    20. Clas Eriksson & Joakim Persson, 2003. "Economic Growth, Inequality, Democratization, and the Environment," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 25(1), pages 1-16, May.
    21. Jamie Pearce & Simon Kingham & Peyman Zawar-Reza, 2006. "Every breath you take? Environmental justice and air pollution in Christchurch, New Zealand," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 38(5), pages 919-938, May.
    22. Matthew Neidell, 2009. "Information, Avoidance Behavior, and Health: The Effect of Ozone on Asthma Hospitalizations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(2).
    23. Per Fredriksson & Jim Wollscheid, 2007. "Democratic institutions versus autocratic regimes: The case of environmental policy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(3), pages 381-393, March.
    24. Torras, Mariano & Boyce, James K., 1998. "Income, inequality, and pollution: a reassessment of the environmental Kuznets Curve," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 147-160, May.
    25. Rodrik, Dani, 1992. "Political economy and development policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(2-3), pages 329-336, April.
    26. Pethig, Rudiger, 1976. "Pollution, welfare, and environmental policy in the theory of Comparative Advantage," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 160-169, February.
    27. Courant, Paul N. & Porter, Richard C., 1981. "Averting expenditure and the cost of pollution," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 321-329, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    environmental taxation; second best; principle of targeting;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ott:wpaper:1102e. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Diane Ritchot). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.