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This paper introduces a volume of collected papers on the political economy of environmental regulation: economic analyses of the processes through which political decisions regarding environmental regulation are made, principally in the institutional context found in the United States. Despite this geographic focus, many of the papers contain analytical models that are methodologically of interest and/or have lessons that are relevant in other parts of the world. In the environmental realm, questions of political economy emerge along three fundamental dimensions, which are closely interrelated but conceptually distinct: (1) the degree of government activity; (2) the form of government activity; and (3) the level of government that has responsibility. The first three parts of the book deal respectively with these three fundamental dimensions of inquiry. Part I features a set of six articles that examine how the targets and goals of individual environmental policies are established. Part II brings together nine articles that employ the analytical apparatus of positive political economy to address questions related to the choice of policy instruments for environmental regulation. Part III features four articles that examine, both positively and normatively, the level of government that is delegated responsibility for environmental protection. Finally, in Part IV, three articles are featured that assess the use of economic analysis in contemporary environmental policy.


Stavins, Robert N. "Introduction to the Political Economy of Environmental Regulation." KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP04-004, January 2004.