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Environmental Enforcement and Compliance: Lessons from Pollution, Safety, and Tax Settings

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  • James Alm

    () (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

  • Jay Shimshack

    () (Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, University of Virginia)

Abstract

Environmental monitoring and enforcement are controversial and incompletely understood. This survey reviews what we do and do not know about the overall effectiveness, as well as the cost effectiveness, of pollution monitoring and enforcement. We ask five key questions: What do environmental monitoring and enforcement actions look like in the real world? How do we assess environmental compliance and deterrence? Do environmental monitoring and enforcement actions get results? How, why, and when do inspections and sanctions achieve compliance and reduce pollution? And, what do the answers to the preceding questions tell us about designing and implementing more effective and more cost effective public policies for the environment? A key contribution is drawing lessons from diverse sources, including insights from theoretical, empirical, and experimental contributions in environmental, tax, and safety settings. We conclude that traditional environmental monitoring and enforcement actions generate important deterrence effects. However, there are limits to such deterrence, and deterrence itself cannot fully explain all patterns of environmental behavior. Encouraging compliance requires both traditional tools and additional tools.

Suggested Citation

  • James Alm & Jay Shimshack, 2014. "Environmental Enforcement and Compliance: Lessons from Pollution, Safety, and Tax Settings," Working Papers 1409, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1409
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    Cited by:

    1. James Alm, 2017. "Is Economics Useful for Public Policy?," Working Papers 1702, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    2. James Alm, 2017. "Is Economics Useful for Public Policy?," Working Papers 1702, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    3. James Alm & Jeremy Clark & Kara Leibel, 2016. "Enforcement, Socioeconomic Diversity, and Tax Filing Compliance in the United States," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 725-747, January.

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    Keywords

    environmental economics; enforcement and compliance;

    JEL classification:

    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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