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Pollution Taxes in a Second-Best World

  • Gilbert E. Metcalf

It is a pleasure to address this group today. I have decided to spend my time discussing recent issues involved in setting environmental taxes in a second-best world. This is an area that has seen an explosion of research and new insights over the past decade and also an area with which many EU countries (as well as candidate EU countries) have been grappling. The basic message of my talk (if there is one) is that the policy prescriptions that most of us learned when studying environmental policy in isolation (that is, in partial equilibrium) often must be significantly adapted once one moves to a general equilibrium framework with pre-existing distortions. Put this way, there is nothing novel here; it is simply a restatement of the Theorem of the Second Best (Lipsey and Lancaster (1956-1957)). This, however, risks trivializing the literature of the past decade. As a contributor to that literature, I'd prefer not to do that. More to the point, there are some very interesting results that bear discussion.

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File URL: http://ase.tufts.edu/econ/papers/200316.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Tufts University in its series Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University with number 0316.

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Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0316
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  1. Bovenberg, A Lans & de Mooij, Ruud A, 1997. "Environmental Levies and Distortionary Taxation: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 252-53, March.
  2. Goulder, Lawrence & Bovenberg, A. Lans, 2000. "Neutralizing the Adverse Industry Impacts of CO2 Abatement Policies: What Does It Cost?," Discussion Papers dp-00-27, Resources For the Future.
  3. Bovenberg, A.L. & van der Ploeg, F., 1992. "Environmental policy, public finance and the labour market in a second-best world," Discussion Paper 1992-43, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  4. Atkinson, Anthony B & Stern, N H, 1974. "Pigou, Taxation and Public Goods," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 119-28, January.
  5. de Bovenberg, A Lans & Mooij, Ruud A, 1994. "Environmental Levies and Distortionary Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 1085-89, September.
  6. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-152985 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Mustafa H. Babiker & Gilbert E. Metcalf & John Reilly, 2002. "Tax Distortions and Global Climate Policy," NBER Working Papers 9136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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