The Cost of Environmental Protection
Expenditures for environmental protection in the U.S. are estimated to exceed $150 billion annually or about 2% of GDP. This estimate, based on largely self-reported information, is often cited as an assessment of the burden of current regulatory efforts and a standard against which the associated benefits are measured. Little is known, however, about how well reported expenditures relate to true costs. The potential for both incidental savings and uncounted burdens means that actual costs could be either higher or lower than reported expenditures. A significant literature supports the notion that increases in reported environmental expenditures probably understate actual economic costs. Estimates of the true cost of a dollar increase in reported environmental spending range from $1.50 to $12. This paper explores the relationship between reported expenditures and economic cost in the manufacturing sector in the context of a large plant-level data set at the four-digit SIC level. We use a cost function modeling approach which treats both environmental and non-environmental production activities as distinct, unrelated cost minimization problems for each plant. We then explore the possibility that these activities are, in fact, related by including reported regulatory expenditures in the cost function for non-environmental output. Under the null hypothesis that reported regulatory expenditures accurately measure the cost of regulation, the coefficient on this term should be zero. In ten of eleven industries studied, including all of the heavily regulated industries, this null hypothesis is accepted using our preferred fixed-effects model. Our best estimate, based on an expenditure weighted average of the four most heavily regulated industries, indicates that an incremental dollar of reported environmental expenditure reduces non-environmental production costs by eighteen cents with a standard error of forty-two cents. This is equivalent to saying that total costs rise by eighty-two cents for every dollar increase in reported environmental expenditures. Using an alternative pooled model we find uniformly higher estimates. Although consistent with previous results, we believe these higher estimates are biased by omitted variables characterizing differences among plants. Summarizing, our results enable us to reject claims that environmental spending imposes large hidden costs on manufacturing plants. In fact, our best estimate indicates a modest though statistically insignificant overstatement of regulatory costs.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Barbera, Anthony J. & McConnell, Virginia D., 1990. "The impact of environmental regulations on industry productivity: Direct and indirect effects," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 50-65, January.
- Caves, Douglas W & Christensen, Laurits R & Diewert, W Erwin, 1982. "Multilateral Comparisons of Output, Input, and Productivity Using Superlative Index Numbers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(365), pages 73-86, March.
- Wayne B. Gray & Ronald J. Shadbegian, 1995.
"Pollution Abatement Costs, Regulation, and Plant-Level Productivity,"
NBER Working Papers
4994, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Wayne B Gray & Ronald J Shadbegian, 1994. "Pollution Abatement Costs, Regulation And Plant-Level Productivity," Working Papers 94-14, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
- Gary Chamberlain, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 225-238.
- Bailey, Elizabeth E & Friedlaender, Ann F, 1982. "Market Structure and Multiproduct Industries," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 1024-48, September.
- Perroni, Carlo & Rutherford, Thomas F, 1998. "A Comparison of the Performance of Flexible Functional Forms for Use in Applied General Equilibrium Modelling," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 11(3), pages 245-63, June.
- Gruenspecht, Howard K, 1982. "Differentiated Regulation: The Case of Auto Emissions Standards," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 328-31, May.
- Virginia D. McConnell & Robert M. Schwab, 1990. "The Impact of Environmental Regulation on Industry Location Decisions: The Motor Vehicle Industry," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 66(1), pages 67-81.
- Timothy J. Bartik, 2010.
"Small Business Start-Ups in the United States: Estimates of the Effects of Characteristics of States,"
Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers,
in: Zolton Acs (ed.), Entrepreneurship and regional Development, pages 155-169
W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
- Timothy J. Bartik, 2002. "Small Business Start-Ups in the United States: Estimates of the Effects of Characteristics of States," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Norris F. Krueger (ed.), Entrepreneurship: Critical Perspectives on Business and Management, volume 0, pages 191-210 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
- Timothy J. Bartik, . "Small Business Start-Ups in the United States: Estimates of the Effects of Characteristics of States," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles tjb1989sej, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
- Timothy J. Bartik, 2002. "The Effects of Environmental Regulation on Business Location in the United States," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Wayne B. Gray (ed.), Economic Costs and Consequences of Environmental Regulation, pages 129-151 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
- Jorgenson, D.W., 1992. "Tax Reform and the Cost of Capital : An International Comparison," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1621, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Cornwell, Christopher & Schmidt, Peter, 1992. "Models for Which the MLE and the Conditional MLE Coincide," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 67-75.
- Mundlak, Yair, 1978. "On the Pooling of Time Series and Cross Section Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 69-85, January.
- Hazilla, Michael & Kopp, Raymond J, 1990. "Social Cost of Environmental Quality Regulations: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 853-73, August.
- Noreen, Eric & Noreen, Eric & Soderstrom, Naomi, 1994. "Are overhead costs strictly proportional to activity? : Evidence from hospital departments," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 255-278, January.
- Diewert, Walter E & Wales, Terence J, 1987.
"Flexible Functional Forms and Global Curvature Conditions,"
Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 43-68, January.
- W. Erwin Diewert & T.J. Wales, 1989. "Flexible Functional Forms and Global Curvature Conditions," NBER Technical Working Papers 0040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Deily, Mary E. & Gray, Wayne B., 1991.
"Enforcement of pollution regulations in a declining industry,"
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management,
Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 260-274, November.
- Mary E. Deily & Wayne B. Gray, 1989. "Enforcement of pollution regulations in a declining industry," Working Paper 8912, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
- Chamberlain, Gary, 1984. "Panel data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1247-1318 Elsevier.
- Gray, Wayne B, 1987. "The Cost of Regulation: OSHA, EPA and the Productivity Slowdown," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 998-1006, December.
- Revesz, Richard L. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Environmental Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
- Nelson, Randy A & Tietenberg, Tom & Donihue, Michael R, 1993. "Differential Environmental Regulation: Effects on Electric Utility Capital Turnover and Emissions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(2), pages 368-73, May.
- Levinson, Arik, 1996. "Environmental regulations and manufacturers' location choices: Evidence from the Census of Manufactures," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1-2), pages 5-29, October.
- Griliches, Zvi, 1979. "Sibling Models and Data in Economics: Beginnings of a Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S37-64, October.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-98-36. 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: (Webmaster)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.