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Policy Analysis in a Second-Best World

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  • Parry, Ian

    (Resources for the Future)

  • Oates, Wallace

    (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

This paper first describes the new literature in environmental economics on the so-called "double dividend" and then explores its implications for a broad range of economic issues. The basic finding in this literature is that in a second-best, general equilibrium setting, environmental measures raise costs and prices and thereby reduce the real wage. This rise in the cost of living reduces slightly the quantity of labor supplied in an already highly distorted labor market, giving rise to losses in social welfare that can be large relative to the basic welfare gains from improved environmental policy. These losses may be offset to some extent by using revenues (if any) from the environmental programs to reduce existing taxes on labor. This same line of analysis applies to many programs and institutions in the economy that raise the cost of living: tariffs and quotas on imports, agricultural price-support programs, monopoly pricing, programs of occupational licensure that limit entry, and many others. The paper thus suggests that traditional, partial equilibrium benefit-cost analysis has, in many instances, unwittingly omitted a potentially quite significant class of social costs from the calculations.

Suggested Citation

  • Parry, Ian & Oates, Wallace, 1998. "Policy Analysis in a Second-Best World," RFF Working Paper Series dp-98-48, Resources for the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-98-48
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    File URL: http://www.rff.org/RFF/documents/RFF-DP-98-48.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. A. Lans Bovenberg & Frederick van der Ploeg, 2002. "Environmental Policy, Public Finance and the Labour Market in a Second-Best World," Chapters, in: Lawrence H. Goulder (ed.), Environmental Policy Making in Economies with Prior Tax Distortions, chapter 6, pages 112-153, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Bovenberg, A Lans & Goulder, Lawrence H, 1996. "Optimal Environmental Taxation in the Presence of Other Taxes: General-Equilibrium Analyses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 985-1000, September.
    3. de Bovenberg, A Lans & Mooij, Ruud A, 1994. "Environmental Levies and Distortionary Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 1085-1089, September.
    4. Jorgenson, Dale W. & Wilcoxen, Peter J., 1993. "Reducing US carbon emissions: an econometric general equilibrium assessment," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 7-25, March.
    5. Browning, Edgar K, 1987. "On the Marginal Welfare Cost of Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 11-23, March.
    6. Lawrence H. Goulder & Ian W.H. Parry & Roberton C. Williams III & Dallas Burtraw, 2002. "The Cost-Effectiveness of Alternative Instruments for Environmental Protection in a Second-Best Setting," Chapters, in: Lawrence H. Goulder (ed.), Environmental Policy Making in Economies with Prior Tax Distortions, chapter 27, pages 523-554, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Don Fullerton & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2002. "Environmental Controls, Scarcity Rents, and Pre-existing Distortions," Chapters, in: Lawrence H. Goulder (ed.), Environmental Policy Making in Economies with Prior Tax Distortions, chapter 26, pages 504-522, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Ian W.H. Parry, 2002. "Pollution Taxes and Revenue Reycling," Chapters, in: Lawrence H. Goulder (ed.), Environmental Policy Making in Economies with Prior Tax Distortions, chapter 15, pages 235-248, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Browning, Edgar K., 1997. "A neglected welfare cost of monopoly--and most other product market distortions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 127-144, October.
    10. Ian Parry, 2001. "The Costs of Restrictive Trade Policies in the Presence of Factor Tax Distortions," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 8(2), pages 147-170, March.
    11. Williams III, Roberton C., 1999. "Revisiting the cost of protectionism:: The role of tax distortions in the labor market," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 429-447, April.
    12. Ian W.H. Parry & Roberton C. Williams III & Lawrence H. Goulder, 2002. "When Can Carbon Abatement Policies Increase Welfare? The Fundamental Role of Distorted Factor Markets," Chapters, in: Lawrence H. Goulder (ed.), Environmental Policy Making in Economies with Prior Tax Distortions, chapter 25, pages 471-503, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    13. A. Lans Bovenberg & Lawrence H. Goulder, 1995. "Costs of Environmentally Motivated Taxes in the Presence of Other Taxes:General Equilibrium Analyses," NBER Working Papers 5117, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. 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.
    15. Bovenberg, A. Lans & Goulder, Lawrence H., 1997. "Costs of Environmentally Motivated Taxes in the Presence of Other Taxes: General Equilibrium Analyses," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 50(1), pages 59-88, March.
    16. Sandmo, Agnar, 1976. "Optimal taxation : An introduction to the literature," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 37-54.
    17. Bovenberg, A. Lans & Goulder, Lawrence H., 1997. "Costs of Environmentally Motivated Taxes in the Presence of Other Taxes: General Equilibrium Analyses," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 50(1), pages 59-88, March.
    18. Pearce, David W, 1991. "The Role of Carbon Taxes in Adjusting to Global Warming," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 938-948, July.
    19. Ian W.H. Parry, 2002. "Environmental Taxes and Quotas in the Presence of Distorting Taxes in Factor Markets," Chapters, in: Lawrence H. Goulder (ed.), Environmental Policy Making in Economies with Prior Tax Distortions, chapter 23, pages 429-446, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    20. Bovenberg, A Lans & de Mooij, Ruud A, 1997. "Environmental Levies and Distortionary Taxation: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 252-253, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Katri Kosonen & Gaetan Nicodeme, 2009. "The role of fiscal instruments in environmental policy," Taxation Papers 19, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
    2. Bor, Yunchang Jeffrey & Huang, Yophy, 2010. "Energy taxation and the double dividend effect in Taiwan's energy conservation policy--an empirical study using a computable general equilibrium model," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 2086-2100, May.
    3. Raúl O'Ryan & Sebastian Miller & Carlos J. de Miguel, 2001. "Environmental Taxes, Inefficient Subsidies and Income Distribution in Chile: A CGE framework," Documentos de Trabajo 98, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    4. European Commission, 2011. "Tax Reforms in EU Member States 2011: tax policy challenges for economic growth and fiscal sustainability," Taxation Papers 28, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
    5. Ian W. H. Parry & Antonio Bento, 2001. "Revenue Recycling and the Welfare Effects of Road Pricing," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 103(4), pages 645-671, December.
    6. Doris Prammer, 2011. "Quality of taxation and the crisis: Tax shifts from a growth perspective," Taxation Papers 29, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
    7. Bosquet, Benoit, 2000. "Environmental tax reform: does it work? A survey of the empirical evidence," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 19-32, July.
    8. Ian Parry, 2001. "The Costs of Restrictive Trade Policies in the Presence of Factor Tax Distortions," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 8(2), pages 147-170, March.
    9. Dasgupta, Basab & Lall, Somik V., 2006. "Assessing benefits of slum upgrading programs in second-best settings," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3993, The World Bank.
    10. O'Ryan, Raúl & de Miguel, Carlos J. & Miller, Sebastian & Munasinghe, Mohan, 2005. "Computable general equilibrium model analysis of economywide cross effects of social and environmental policies in Chile," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 447-472, September.
    11. Mariana Conte Grand & Alejandro Rasteletti, 2021. "Pérdidas de bienestar por imposición subóptima en los impuestos a las gasolinas en América Latina y el Caribe," CEMA Working Papers: Serie Documentos de Trabajo. 821, Universidad del CEMA.
    12. Parry, Ian W.H. & Bento, Antonio M., 1999. "Tax Deductible Spending, Environmental Policy, and the "Double Dividend" Hypothesis," Discussion Papers 10737, Resources for the Future.
    13. Haucap, Justus & Schwalbe, Ulrich, 2011. "Economic principles of state aid control," DICE Discussion Papers 17, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    14. Eban Goodstein, 2003. "The Death of the Pigovian Tax? Policy Implications from the Double-Dividend Debate," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(3), pages 402-414.

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