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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," Discussion Papers 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. Bovenberg, A. L. & van der Ploeg, F., 1994. "Environmental policy, public finance and the labour market in a second-best world," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 349-390, November.
    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. Parry, Ian W. H. & Williams, Roberton III & Goulder, Lawrence H., 1999. "When Can Carbon Abatement Policies Increase Welfare? The Fundamental Role of Distorted Factor Markets," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 52-84, January.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Browning, Edgar K, 1987. "On the Marginal Welfare Cost of Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 11-23, March.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Fullerton, Don & Metcalf, Gilbert E., 2001. "Environmental controls, scarcity rents, and pre-existing distortions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 249-267, May.
    11. Sandmo, Agnar, 1976. "Optimal taxation : An introduction to the literature," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 37-54.
    12. Parry Ian W. H., 1995. "Pollution Taxes and Revenue Recycling," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 64-77, November.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    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, vol. 50(1), pages 59-88, March.
    16. 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.
    17. Parry, Ian W. H., 1997. "Environmental taxes and quotas in the presence of distorting taxes in factor markets," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 203-220, August.
    18. 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.
    19. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Parry, Ian W H & Bento, Antonio, 2001. " Revenue Recycling and the Welfare Effects of Road Pricing," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 103(4), pages 645-671, December.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Parry, Ian & Bento, Antonio, 1999. "Tax Deductible Spending, Environmental Policy, and the "Double Dividend" Hypothesis," Discussion Papers dp-99-24, Resources For the Future.
    9. Haucap, Justus & Schwalbe, Ulrich, 2011. "Economic principles of state aid control," DICE Discussion Papers 17, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).

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