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Should We Pay for Ecosystem Service Outputs, Actions or Both?

Author

Listed:
  • Ben White

    () (University of Western Australia)

  • Nick Hanley

    () (School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St. Andrews)

Abstract

Payments for ecosystem service outputs have become a popular policy prescription for a range of agri-environmental schemes. The focus of this paper is on the choice of sets of instruments in an ecosystem service principal-agent model that addresses adverse selection and moral-hazard. Results show that input-based and output-based contracts are equivalent where there is full information. With missing information, input-based contracts are more efficient at reducing the informational rent related to adverse selection than output-based contracts. There is an efficiency gain related to using mixed contracts especially where one input is not observable. These contracts allow the regulator to target variables that are costly-to-fake as opposed to those prone to moral hazard such as labour inputs. We then consider the implications of moral hazard and dynamic contracting. An overall finding is that in designing agri-environmental schemes, it is critical that the regulator has an understanding of the link between actions and ecosystem service outputs and, ideally, an estimate of their economic value. Without these in place, payment for ecosystem service schemes will be inefficient and poorly targeted.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben White & Nick Hanley, 2014. "Should We Pay for Ecosystem Service Outputs, Actions or Both?," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2014-08, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:sss:wpaper:2014-08
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    File URL: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/media/dept-of-geography-and-sustainable-development/pdf-s/DP%202014-08%20White%20&%20Hanley.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Andrew Moxey & Ben White & Adam Ozanne, 1999. "Efficient Contract Design for Agri-Environment Policy," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 187-202.
    2. David P. Baron, 1985. "Noncooperative Regulation of a Nonlocalized Externality," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(4), pages 553-568, Winter.
    3. Patrick Bolton & Mathias Dewatripont, 2005. "Contract Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262025760, January.
    4. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 1993. "A Theory of Incentives in Procurement and Regulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121743, January.
    5. Nick Hanley & Simanti Banerjee & Gareth D. Lennox & Paul R. Armsworth, 2012. "How should we incentivize private landowners to ‘produce’ more biodiversity?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(1), pages 93-113, Spring.
    6. Ian Mackenzie & Nick Hanley & Tatiana Kornienko, 2008. "The optimal initial allocation of pollution permits: a relative performance approach," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 39(3), pages 265-282, March.
    7. Ben White & Rohan Sadler, 2012. "Optimal conservation investment for a biodiversity‐rich agricultural landscape," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 56(1), pages 1-21, January.
    8. JunJie Wu & Bruce A. Babcock, 1996. "Contract Design for the Purchase of Environmental Goods from Agriculture," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(4), pages 935-945.
    9. Campbell, H F & Bond, K A, 1997. "The Cost of Public Funds in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 73(220), pages 22-34, March.
    10. Daniela A. Miteva & Subhrendu K. Pattanayak & Paul J. Ferraro, 2012. "Evaluation of biodiversity policy instruments: what works and what doesn’t?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(1), pages 69-92, Spring.
    11. Barbier, Edward B., 2009. "Ecosystems as Natural Assets," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 4(8), pages 611-681, November.
    12. Lau, Lawrence J., 1976. "A characterization of the normalized restricted profit function," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 131-163, February.
    13. Ferraro, Paul J., 2008. "Asymmetric information and contract design for payments for environmental services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 810-821, May.
    14. Derissen, Sandra & Quaas, Martin F., 2013. "Combining performance-based and action-based payments to provide environmental goods under uncertainty," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 77-84.
    15. Jean Tirole, 1999. "Incomplete Contracts: Where Do We Stand?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 741-782, July.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    payments for ecosystem services; principal-agent models; moral hazard; adverse selection; mechanism design;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • Q24 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Land
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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