Environmental policy instruments and corruption

Peer Reviewed
2 May 2020

Richard Damania, Thomas Sterner, Dale Whittington

In this paper we discuss the choice of taxation or regulation of environmental externalities. The subject might appear to be a well-trodden path, but we believe we have a new angle on this well-established question. We think we are being quite realistic when we assume that corrupt practices lurk behind every corner, threatening to derail the good intents of any regulator. With this starting point we compare the result of trying to impose taxation contra regulation in environments where the implementation in both cases will be marred by corrupt practices of under-reporting emissions and bribing inspectors. In a simple and stylized model of these circumstances we show that taxes tend to perform the same or better in the sense that a pollution tax induces greater compliance and lower pollution than does a regulatory standard. We also show that the advantages of a tax are particularly great in countries where the enforcement ability of authorities is weak, which is commonly thought to be the case in developing countries.

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Publication reference
Damania, R., Sterner, T., & Whittington, D. (2020). Environmental policy instruments and corruption. China Economic Journal, 13(2), 123–138. doi:10.1080/17538963.2020.1751454

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Publication | 27 July 2020