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2009-10-15 | Thesis MSC

Essays on the Political Economy of Transport Regulation in Costa Rica

Blackman, Allen, Rebecca Osakwe and Francisco Alpízar. 2009. “Essays on the Political Economy of Transport Regulation in Costa Rica”
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The general objective of the thesis is to analyze the political economy of the regulation of Costa Rica’s transport sector and identify the main opportunities and challenges in designing a more integrated regulatory approach for the sector.

In the past
decade, a series of policies intended to regulate the transport sector have
been implemented in Costa Rica. Four key policies implemented in this period
are fuel taxes, car taxes (import taxes and an annual technical inspection
/emissions regulation fee), an annual circulation permit and a driving
restriction program for the San José Metropolitan Area.  Despite an increasing awareness of transport
externalities such as air pollution, traffic congestion and traffic accidents,
policy makers and stakeholders often act in response to interests that do not
necessarily prioritize the resolution of these externalities. These and other
transport-related problems have worsened in the past decade, evidencing the
need to implement new policies and modify existing ones in order to better
regulate the transport sector.

The general
objective of the thesis is to analyze the political economy of the regulation
of Costa Rica’s transport sector and identify the main opportunities and
challenges in designing a more integrated regulatory approach for the
sector.  The first section consists of a
qualitative analysis of the political economy of Costa Rica’s transport sector,
with a focus on the four policies mentioned above. In this section, stakeholder
analysis is used to assess the interactions between policymakers, legislators
and consumers of transport services and goods. The following key questions
regarding the implementation of the four selected policies are addressed: (i)
Who were the important stakeholders involved in the decision-making process
that led to the implementation of each program, and what were their main
motivations? (ii)To what extent is the effectiveness of each program linked to
the implementation of other policies that regulate the transport sector? (iii)
Is there a more effective combination of policies that could reduce transport
externalities? If so, what are the main political restrictions and difficulties
in implementing this combination of policies? The second section consists of an
econometric analysis of the effects of the Pico
y Placa
driving restriction program, which was significantly modified in
July of 2008, on fuel consumption levels and air quality levels in the San José
Metropolitan Area.

Ultimately, I
hope to provide clear and well-organized information regarding the political
economy of Costa Rica’s transport sector through the analysis of four policies
that currently affect the regulation of that sector. I intend to recommend
modifications to existing policies and suggest a more effective combination of
policies in order to aid policy makers to better address environmental
externalities related to the transport sector.