On the Accuracy of Regulatory Cost Estimates
This study compares ex ante estimates of the direct costs of individual regulations to ex post assessments of the same regulations. A review of more than two dozen environmental and occupational safety regulations indicates that ex ante estimates of total (direct) costs have tended to exceed actuals. The authors find this to be true of 12 of the 25 rules in their data set, while for only 6 were the ex ante estimates too low. The overestimation of total costs is often due to errors in the quantity of emission reductions achieved by the rule which, in turn, suggest that the rule's benefits may also be overestimated. The quantity errors are driven by both baseline and compliance issues. At least for EPA and OSHA rules, overestimation of per-unit abatement costs occurs about as often as underestimation. In contrast, for those rules that use economic incentives, per-unit costs are consistently overestimated. Much of the overestimation can be attributed to technical innovations unanticipated at the time the rule is issued, and to quantity errors. In addition, several methodological and procedural explanations also apply: changes in the regulation after the cost estimate is prepared, use of maximum cost estimates, and asymmetric error correction. Since a number of environmental laws encourage the development of cost estimates that reflect a maximum rather than a mean, regulatory agencies could issue a "best estimate" along with the statutorily preferred cost estimate. Likewise, they could ensure that rule changes made in the course of the regulatory development process are manifest in revised cost estimates. Indeed, discovering how and when to adjust ex ante estimates provides the strongest possible justification for more credible ex post studiesa research activity that merits greater emphasis.
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.:
- 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 853-873, August.
- Richard D. Morgenstern & William A. Pizer & Jhih-Shyang Shih, 2001.
"The Cost Of Environmental Protection,"
The Review of Economics and Statistics,
MIT Press, vol. 83(4), pages 732-738, November.
- Pizer, William & Morgenstern, Richard & Shih, Jhih-Shyang, 1998. "The Cost of Environmental Protection," Discussion Papers dp-98-36, Resources For the Future.
- James Quirk & Katsuaki Terasawa, 1986. "ple Selection and Cost Underestimation Bias in Pioneer Projects," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 62(2), pages 192-200.
- Dale W. Jorgenson & Peter J. Wilcoxen, 1990. "Environmental Regulation and U.S. Economic Growth," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(2), pages 314-340, Summer.
- Adam B. Jaffe et al., 1995. "Environmental Regulation and the Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturing: What Does the Evidence Tell Us?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 132-163, March.
- Spulber, Daniel F., 1988. "Optimal environmental regulation under asymmetric information," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 163-181, March.
- Martin L. Weitzman, 1980. "Efficient Incentive Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(4), pages 719-730.
- Evan Kwerel, 1977. "To Tell the Truth: Imperfect Information and Optimal Pollution Control," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 595-601.
- Garber, Steven & Hammitt, James K., 1998. "Risk Premiums for Environmental Liability: Does Superfund Increase the Cost of Capital?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 267-294, November.
- Hau, Timothy D., 1992. "Congestion charging mechanisms for roads : an evaluation of current practice," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1071, The World Bank.
- Salop, Steven C & Scheffman, David T, 1983. "Raising Rivals' Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(2), pages 267-271, May.
- Karen Palmer & Wallace E. Oates & Paul R. Portney, 1995. "Tightening Environmental Standards: The Benefit-Cost or the No-Cost Paradigm?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 119-132, Fall.
- James Hammitt, 2000. "Are The Costs of Proposed Environmental Regulations Overestimated? Evidence from the CFC Phaseout," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 16(3), pages 281-302, July.
- Revesz, Richard L. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Environmental Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
- Cropper, Maureen L & Oates, Wallace E, 1992. "Environmental Economics: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 675-740, June.
- Maloney, Michael T & McCormick, Robert E, 1982. "A Positive Theory of Environmental Quality Regulation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 99-123, April.
- Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1979. "Optimal incentive contracts with imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 231-259, April. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-99-18. 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 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.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with 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 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.