Environmental Regulation

Hanna, Rema, and Paulina Oliva. 2015. “The Effect of Pollution on Labor Supply: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Mexico.” The Journal of Public Economics 122 (February 2015): 68-79. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Much of what we know about the marginal effect of pollution on infant mortality is derived from developed country data. However, given the lower levels of air pollution in developed countries, these estimates may not be externally valid to the developing country context if there is a nonlinear dose relationship between pollution and mortality or if the costs of avoidance behavior differs considerably between the two contexts. In this paper, we estimate the relationship between pollution and infant mortality using data from Mexico. We find that an increase of 1 parts per billion in carbon monoxide (CO) over the last week results in 0.0032 deaths per 100,000 births, while a 1 μg/m3 increase in particulate matter (PM10) results in 0.24 infant deaths per 100,000 births. Our estimates for PM10 tend to be similar (or even smaller) than the U.S. estimates, while our findings on CO tend to be larger than those derived from the U.S. context. We provide suggestive evidence that a non-linearity in the relationship between CO and health explains this difference.

R. Hanna in JPE on Effect of Pollution in Mexico, CID WP #225 (2011)
Greenstone, Michael, and Rema Hanna. 2014. “Environmental Regulations, Air and Water Pollution, and Infant Mortality in India.” American Economic Review 104 (10): 3038-72. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Using the most comprehensive developing country dataset ever compiled on air and water pollution and environmental regulations, the paper assesses India's environmental regulations with a difference-in-differences design. The air pollution regulations are associated with substantial improvements in air quality. The most successful air regulation resulted in a modest but statistically insignificant decline in infant mortality. In contrast, the water regulations had no measurable benefits. The available evidence leads us to cautiously conclude that higher demand for air quality prompted the effective enforcement of air pollution regulations, indicating that strong public support allows environmental regulations to succeed in weak institutional settings.
Duflo, Esther, Michael Greenstone, Rohini Pande, and Nichols Ryan. 2013. “What Does Reputation Buy? Differentiation in a Market for Third-party Auditors.” American Economic Review 103 (3): 314-319. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We study differences in quality in the market for third-party environmental auditors in Gujarat, India. We find that, despite the low overall quality, auditors are heterogeneous and some perform well. We posit that these high-quality auditors survive by using their good name to insulate select client plants from regulatory scrutiny. We find two pieces of evidence broadly consistent with this hypothesis: (i) though estimates are not precise, higher-quality auditors appear to be paid more both in their work as third-party auditors and in their complementary work as consultants; and (ii) plants with high-quality auditors incur fewer costly penalties from the regulator.

Duflo, Esther, Michael Greenstone, Rohini Pande, and Nicholas Ryan. 2013. “Truth-Telling by Third-party Auditors and the Response of Polluting Firms: Experimental Evidence from India.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 128 (4): 1-48. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In many regulated markets, private, third-party auditors are chosen and paid by the firms that they audit, potentially creating a conflict of interest. This paper reports on a two- year field experiment in the Indian state of Gujarat that sought to curb such a conflict by altering the market structure for environmental audits of industrial plants to incentivize accurate reporting. There are three main results. First, the status quo system was largely corrupted, with auditors systematically reporting plant emissions just below the standard, although true emissions were typically higher. Second, the treatment caused auditors to report more truthfully and very significantly lowered the fraction of plants that were falsely reported as compliant with pollution standards. Third, treatment plants, in turn, reduced their pollution emissions. The results suggest reformed incentives for third-party auditors can improve their reporting and make regulation more effective.

An, Li, Jianguo Liu, Frank Lupi, Ryan Sheely, and Andres Vina. 2012. “Agent-based Modeling of the Effects of Social Norms on Enrollment in Payments for Ecosystem Services.” Ecological Modelling 229: 16-24. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Conservation investments are increasingly being implemented through payments for ecosystem services (PES) for the protection and restoration of ecosystem services around the world. Previous studies suggested that social norms have substantial impacts on environmental behaviors of humans, including enrollment of PES programs. However, it is still not well understood how social norms are affected by the design of PES programs and how the evolution of social norms may affect the efficiency of conservation investments. In this paper, we developed an agent-based simulation model to demonstrate the evolution and impacts of social norms on the enrollment of agricultural land in a PES program. We applied the model to land plots that have been enrolled in China's Grain-to-Green Program (GTGP) to examine reenrollment in an alternative payment program when the current payments ceased. The study was conducted in Wolong Nature Reserve where several thousand plant and animal species, including giant pandas, may benefit from the reenrollment. We found that over 15% more GTGP land can be reenrolled at the same payment if social norms were leveraged by allowing more than 10 rounds of interactions among landholders regarding their reenrollment decisions. With only three rounds of interactions, an additional 7.5% GTGP land was reenrolled at the same payment due to the effects of social norms. In addition, the effects of social norms were largest at intermediate payments and were smaller at much higher or much smaller payments. Even in circumstances where frequent interactions among landholders about their enrollment decisions are not feasible, policy arrangements that divide households into multiple waves for sequential enrollment can enroll over 11% more land at a given payment level. The approach presented in this paper can be used to improve the efficiency of existing PES programs and many other conservation investments worldwide.

Hanna, Rema, and Michael Greenstone. 2011. “Environmental Regulations, Air and Water Pollution, and Infant Mortality in India”.Abstract

Using the most comprehensive data file ever compiled on air pollution, water pollution, environmental regulations, and infant mortality from a developing country, the paper examines the effectiveness of India’s environmental regulations. The air pollution regulations were effective at reducing ambient concentrations of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. The most successful air pollution regulation is associated with a modest and statistically insignificant decline in infant mortality. However, the water pollution regulations had no observable effect. Overall, these results contradict the conventional wisdom that environmental quality is a deterministic function of income and underscore the role of institutions and politics.

Pande, Rohini, Michael Greenstone, Aparna Krishnan, Nicholas Ryan, and Anant Sudarshan. 2011. “Improving Human Health through a Market Friendly Emissions Scheme.” Seminar Volume for International Seminar on Global Environment and Disaster Management: Law and Society Supreme Court of India, Ministry of Environment and Forest and Law Ministry). Publisher's Version
Hanna, Rema. 2010. “U.S. Environmental Regulation and FDI: Evidence from a Panel of US-Based Multinational Firms.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2 (3): 158-189. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This paper measures the response of US-based multinationals to the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA). Using a panel of firm-level data over the period 1966 – 1999, I estimate the effect of regulation on a multinational’s foreign production decisions. The CAAA induced substantial variation in the degree of regulation faced by firms, allowing for the estimation of econometric models that control for firm-specific characteristics and industrial trends. I find that the CAAA caused regulated multinational firms to increase their foreign assets by 5.3 percent and their foreign output by 9 percent. Heavily regulated firms did not disproportionately increase foreign investment in developing countries.

Pande, Rohini, Esther Duflo, Michael Greenstone, and Nicholas Ryan. 2010. “Towards an Emissions Trading Scheme for Air Pollutants in India.” Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India, 24.Abstract

Emissions trading schemes have great potential to lower pollution while minimizing compliance costs for firms in many areas now subject to traditional command-and-control regulation. This paper connects experience with emissions trading, from programs like the U.S. Acid Rain program, to lessons for implementation of a Trading Pilot Scheme in India. This experience suggests that four areas are especially important for successful implementation of an emissions trading scheme: setting the cap, allocating permits, monitoring and compliance. The introduction of emissions trading would position India as a clear leader in environmental regulation amongst emerging economies.

Duflo, Esther, and Rohini Pande. 2007. “Dams.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 122 (2): 601-646. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This paper studies the productivity and distributional effects of large irrigation dams in India. Our instrumental variable estimates exploit the fact that river gradient affects a district's suitability for dams. In districts located downstream from a dam, agricultural production increases, and vulnerability to rainfall shocks declines. In contrast, agricultural production shows an insignificant increase in the district where the dam is located but its volatility increases. Rural poverty declines in downstream districts but increases in the district where the dam is built, suggesting that neither markets nor state institutions have alleviated the adverse distributional impacts of dam construction.