Controlling Urban Air Pollution Caused by Households: Uncertainty, Prices, and Income

Peer Reviewed
1 October 2011

Carlos A. Chávez, John K. Stranlund, Walter Gómez

We examine the control of air pollution caused by households burning wood for heating and cooking in the developing world. Since the problem is one of controlling emissions from nonpoint sources, regulations are likely to be directed at household choices of wood consumption and combustion technologies. Moreover, these choices are subtractions from, or contributions to, the pure public good of air quality. Consequently, the efficient policy design is not independent of the distribution of household income. Since it is unrealistic to assume that environmental authorities can make lump sum income transfers part of control policies, efficient control of air pollution caused by wood consumption entails a higher tax on wood consumption and a higher subsidy for more efficient combustion technologies for higher income households. Among other difficulties, implementing a policy to promote the adoption of cleaner combustion technologies must overcome the seemingly paradoxical result that efficient control calls for higher technology subsidies for higher income households.

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Chávez, C. A., Stranlund, J. K., & Gómez, W. (2011). Controlling urban air pollution caused by households: Uncertainty, prices, and income. Journal of Environmental Management, 92(10), 2746–2753. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2011.06.014

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Publication | 16 October 2011