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A Fair Share - Burden-Sharing Preferences in the United States and China

Using a choice experiment, we investigated preferences for distributing the economic burden of decreasing CO2 emissions in the two largest CO2-emitting countries: the United States and China. We asked respondents about their preferences for four burden-sharing rules to reduce CO2 emissions according to their country’’s 1) historical emissions, 2) income level, 3) equal right to emit per person, and 4) current emissions.


Health Impacts of Power-Exporting Plants in Northern Mexico

In the past two decades, rapid population and economic growth on the U.S.–Mexico border has spurred a dramatic increase in electricity demand. In response, American energy multinationals have built power plants just south of the border that export most of their electricity to the United States. This development has stirred considerable controversy because these plants effectively skirt U.S. environmental air pollution regulations in a severely degraded international airshed.


The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth: A Multiple-Country Test of an Oath Script

Hypothetical bias is one of the main issues bedeviling the field of nonmarket valuation. The general criticism is that survey responses reflect how people would like to behave, rather than how they actually behave. In our study of climate change and emissions reductions, we took advantage of the increasing bulk of evidence from psychology and economics that addresses the effects of making promises, in order to investigate the effect of an oath script in a contingent valuation survey.


Voluntary environmental regulation in developing countries: Mexico’s Clean Industry Program

Because conventional command-and-control environmental regulation often performs poorly in developing countries, policymakers are increasingly experimenting with alternatives, including voluntary regulatory programs. Research in industrialized countries suggests that such programs are sometimes ineffective, because they mainly attract relatively clean participants free-riding on unrelated pollution control investments.


Alternative Pollution Control Policies in Developing Countries

Weak environmental regulatory institutions in developing countries often undermine conventional command-and-control pollution control policies. As a result, these countries are increasingly experimenting with alternative approaches aimed at leveraging nonregulatory “green” pressures applied by local communities, capital markets, and consumers.


Behavioral Response to Plastic Bag Legislation in Botswana

This paper investigates the use of charges and standards in dealing with a common externality, plastic litter from shopping bags in Botswana. The country passed a plastic bag tax (effective 2007) to curb the plastic bag demand. Interestingly, the legislation did not force retailers to charge for plastic bags, which they did voluntarily at different prices.


Paying the Price of Sweetening Your Donation: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment

Using a natural field experiment in a recreational site, a public good almost fully dependent on voluntary donations, the authors explored the crowding-out effect of gift rewards. First, they investigated whether receiving a map in appreciation of a donation crowded out prosocial behavior and found no significant effect of giving the map. Second, they explored the effect of adding the map to a treatment designed to increase donations. Interestingly, when the gift was combined with their attempt to trigger reputational and self image motives, the probability of donating decreased significantly, compared to the social reference treatment alone.


Climate Change Abatement: Not "Stern" Enough?

This article, "Climate Change Abatement: Not "Stern" Enough?", by Thomas Sterner and Dallas Burtraw, is forthcoming in a book, Parry and Day, eds. "100 Policy Commentaries on Environmental, Energy, Urban and Public Health Problems: Volume 1", RFF Press.


Alternative Pollution Control Policies in Developing Countries: Informal, Informational, and Voluntary

In developing countries, weak environmental regulatory institutions often undermine conventional command-and-control policies. As a result, these countries are increasingly experimenting with alternative approaches that aim to leverage nonregulatory “green” pressures applied by local communities, capital markets, and consumers. This article reviews three strands of the empirical literature on this trend.


User Financing in a National Payments for Environmental Services Program: Costa Rican Hydropower

National government-funded payments for environmental services (PES) programs often lack sustainable financing and fail to target payments to providers of important environmental services. In principle, these problems could be mitigated by replacing at least some government funding with direct contributions from individual environmental service users who have incentives to underwrite payments and who can ensure that they are targeted appropriately.


Agroforestry Price Supports as a Conservation Tool: Mexican Shade Coffee

Economic policies that boost profits from agroforesty, thereby creating financial incentives for land managers to favor these systems over less environmentally friendly land uses, could, in theory, have ancillary environmental benefits. This paper analyzes primary and secondary data to determine whether a voluntary price support program for Mexican coffee-mostly grown in shaded systems that supply important ecosystem services- has had such "win-win" benefits by stemming land-use change in the coffee sector.


Tradable Permits in Developing Countries: Evidence from Air Pollution in Santiago, Chile

Santiago was one of the first cities outside the OECD to implement a tradable permit program to control air pollution. This paper looks closely at the program’s performance over the past 10 years, stressing its similarities and discrepancies with trading programs in developed countries, and analyzing how it has reacted to regulatory adjustments and market shocks. Studying Santiago’s experience allows us to discuss the drawbacks and advantages of applying tradable permits in less developed countries.


Does Relative Income Matter for the Very Poor? Evidence from Rural Ethiopia

Does relative income have an impact on subjective well-being among extremely poor people? Contrary to the findings in developed countries, where relative income has shown a significant and negative impact on subjective well-being, this study (based on different definitions of reference groups) suggests that relative income does not affect subjective well-being among the very poor people in northern Ethiopia.


Environmental Policy, Fuel Prices, and the Switch to Natural Gas in Santiago, Chile

The author analyzes the role of environmental policies and energy cost savings in the switch to natural gas by stationary sources in Chile. There is skepticism about using market-based policies (economic instruments) in the developing world—permit trading programs versus emissions fees. This paper produces new evidence of the role of environmental regulations and market forces in a successful air-quality improvement program in Chile, a less-developed country.


Taxes, Permits, and the Diffusions of a New Technology

The author looks at the effects of the choice between taxes and permits on the pattern of adoption of a new emissions abatement technology. The regulator determines the optimal ex-post amount of emissions before firms start to adopt the technology. Each firm decides when to adopt, considering benefits, costs, and advantage gained over their rivals, producing a sequence of adoption that is “diffused” into the industry over time.


Trade, GMOs, and Environmental Risk: Are Policies Likely to Improve Welfare?

Controversy over the EU import ban on food from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) forced the EU to change course and institute a mandatory labeling scheme. This study first examined how different policies for the production and use of GMOs might influence the market outcome in consumer food markets. Second, it evaluated the welfare effects of the policy measures, finding that mandatory labeling often increases both domestic welfare and global welfare, while trade bans more likely decrease global welfare.


Determinants of Soil Capital

Explaining soil capital facilitates a better understanding of constraints and opportunities for increased agricultural production and reduced land degradation. The diversity in farmers’ soil capital, production strategies, and general farming systems (including conservation investments) points to the value of internalizing these aspects in the formulation of the government’s policies and extension advice on sustainable agriculture.


Anonymity, Reciprocity and Conformity: Evidence from Voluntary Contributions to a Natural Park in Costa Rica

In a natural field experiment, the authors quantified the importance of anonymity, reciprocity, and conformity through the provision of social reference levels in order to explain voluntary contributions. In the study setting, the effects of the various treatments were small, suggesting that the self-image as an honorable person, irrespective of other people’s opinions, could be an important explanation of contribution behavior. The experiment overall showed no clear evidence that current practice by charitable organizations is inefficient.