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Designing Economic Instruments for the Environment in a Decentralized Fiscal System

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  • James Alm

    () (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

  • H. Spencer Banzhaf

    () (Department of Economics, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University)

Abstract

When external effects are important, markets will be inefficient, and economists have considered several broad classes of economic instruments to correct these inefficiencies. However, the standard economic analysis has tended to take the region, and the government, as a given; that is, this work has neglected important distinctions and interactions between the geographic scope of different pollutants, the enforcement authority of various levels of government, and the fiscal responsibilities of the various levels of government. It typically ignores the possibility that the externality may be created and addressed by local governments, and it does not consider the implications of decentralization for the design of economic instruments targeted at environmental problems. This paper examines the implications of decentralization for the design of corrective policies; that is, how does one design economic instruments in a decentralized fiscal system in which externalities exist at the local level and in which subnational governments have the power to provide local public services and to choose tax instruments that can both finance these expenditures and correct the market failures of externalities?

Suggested Citation

  • James Alm & H. Spencer Banzhaf, 2011. "Designing Economic Instruments for the Environment in a Decentralized Fiscal System," Working Papers 1104, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1104
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    Cited by:

    1. William M. Shobe & Dallas Burtraw, 2012. "Rethinking Environmental Federalism In A Warming World," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 3(04), pages 1-33.
    2. Vallés-Giménez, Jaime & Zárate-Marco , Anabel, 2013. "Environmental taxation and industrial water use in Spain," INVESTIGACIONES REGIONALES - Journal of REGIONAL RESEARCH, Asociación Española de Ciencia Regional, issue 25, pages 133-162.
    3. Alexeev, Alexander & Good, David H. & Krutilla, Kerry, 2016. "Environmental taxation and the double dividend in decentralized jurisdictions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 90-100.
    4. Millimet, Daniel L., 2013. "Environmental Federalism: A Survey of the Empirical Literature," IZA Discussion Papers 7831, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Fredriksson, Per G. & Wollscheid, Jim R., 2014. "Environmental decentralization and political centralization," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 402-410.

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    Keywords

    market failure; environmental federalism; externalities; fiscal decentralization; subsidiarity principle; economic instruments;

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics

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