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Discretionary enforcement and strategic interactions between firms, regulatory agency and justice department: a theoretical and empirical investigation

  • Germani, Anna Rita
  • Morone, Andrea
  • Morone, Piergiuseppe
  • Scaramozzino, Pasquale

This paper presents a game theoretic morphological analysis of the U.S. environmental authorities’ (i.e., EPA and DOJ) behavioural mechanisms, based on strategic interactions among the players. The models explore the role of discretion that such authorities enjoy, either in deciding how to pursue environmental violations (investigative and prosecutorial discretion) or in judging them (judicial discretion). The purpose is to identify both the optimal firms’ behaviour in terms of compliance, and the DOJ’s and EPA’s optimal strategies in terms of enforcement actions to undertake. Consistent with the setting of the game theory models, the role of EPA and DOJ in deterring firms from polluting is, then, empirically tested, by means of a laboratory experiment. Laboratory evidence on compliance behaviour of firms when faced with enforcement conditions predicted by the theoretical models set up is discussed for the different experimental treatments performed.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 51369.

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Date of creation: Sep 2013
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:51369
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  1. Garoupa, Nuno, 1997. " The Theory of Optimal Law Enforcement," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 267-95, September.
  2. Heyes, Anthony & Rickman, Neil, 1999. "Regulatory dealing - revisiting the Harrington paradox," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 361-378, June.
  3. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  4. Eric Helland, 1998. "The Enforcement Of Pollution Control Laws: Inspections, Violations, And Self-Reporting," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 141-153, February.
  5. Subrahmanyam, Avanidhar, 1995. "On rules versus discretion in procedures to halt trade," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-16, February.
  6. Friesen, Lana, 2003. "Targeting enforcement to improve compliance with environmental regulations," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 72-85, July.
  7. Nuno Garoupa, 2000. "Optimal magnitude and probability of fines," Economics Working Papers 454, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  8. Laplante, Benoit & Rilstone, Paul, 1996. "Environmental Inspections and Emissions of the Pulp and Paper Industry in Quebec," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 19-36, July.
  9. Jones, Carol Adaire & Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1990. "The social cost of uniform regulatory standards in a hierarchical government," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 61-72, July.
  10. Franckx, Laurent, 2002. "The Use of Ambient Inspections in Environmental Monitoring and Enforcement When the Inspection Agency Cannot Commit Itself to Announced Inspection Probabilities," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 71-92, January.
  11. Lando, Henrik & Shavell, Steven, 2004. "The advantage of focusing law enforcement effort," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 209-218, June.
  12. Stafford, Sarah L., 2002. "The Effect of Punishment on Firm Compliance with Hazardous Waste Regulations," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 290-308, September.
  13. Eric Rasmusen & Manu Raghav & Mark Ramseyer, 2009. "Convictions versus Conviction Rates: The Prosecutor's Choice," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 47-78.
  14. Laurent Franckx, 2001. "Ambient environmental monitoring, sequential firm inspections and time-decreasing benefits of inspection," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 17(1), pages 1-10.
  15. Shimshack, Jay P. & Ward, Michael B., 2005. "Regulator reputation, enforcement, and environmental compliance," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 519-540, November.
  16. Shavell, Steven, 1993. "The Optimal Structure of Law Enforcement," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 255-87, April.
  17. Dion, Catherine & Lanoie, Paul & Laplante, Benoit, 1998. "Monitoring of Pollution Regulation: Do Local Conditions Matter?," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 5-18, January.
  18. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1999. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," NBER Working Papers 6993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Thomas BLONDIAU & Sandra ROUSSEAU, 2009. "The impact of judicial objective function on the enforcement of environmental standards," Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers ces09.21, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën.
  20. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  21. Harrington, Winston, 1988. "Enforcement leverage when penalties are restricted," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 29-53, October.
  22. Stafford, Sarah L, 2003. "Assessing the Effectiveness of State Regulation and Enforcement of Hazardous Waste," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 27-41, January.
  23. Tom Baker & Alon Harel & Tamar Kugler, 2003. "The Virtues of Uncertainty in Law: An Experimental Approach," Discussion Paper Series dp310, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  24. Rousseau Sandra, 2007. "The Impact of Sanctions and Inspections on Firms’ Environmental Compliance Decisions," Energy, Transport and Environment Working Papers Series ete0704, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën, Energy, Transport and Environment.
  25. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1982. "The Optimal Use of Fines and Imprisonment," NBER Working Papers 0932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Anderson, Lisa R & Stafford, Sarah L, 2003. "Punishment in a Regulatory Setting: Experimental Evidence from the VCM," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 91-110, July.
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