Chapter 19
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Chapter 19. The Environment. Chapter Outline. HOW CLEAN IS CLEAN ENOUGH? THE EXTERNALITIES APPROACH THE PROPERTY RIGHTS APPROACH ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS AND THEIR ECONOMIC SOLUTIONS. How Clean is Clean Enough.

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Chapter 19

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Chapter 19

Chapter 19

The Environment


Chapter outline

Chapter Outline

  • HOW CLEAN IS CLEAN ENOUGH?

  • THE EXTERNALITIES APPROACH

  • THE PROPERTY RIGHTS APPROACH

  • ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS AND THEIR ECONOMIC SOLUTIONS


How clean is clean enough

How Clean is Clean Enough

  • Economists answer most “how much is enough” questions with the same answer: “until the marginal benefit equals the marginal cost.”

  • The right level of environmental cleanliness is achieved when the value of cleaning the environment a little more equals the cost of doing so.


The dirty room example

The Dirty Room Example

  • Cleaning your room (dorm room or your own bedroom) can be done to many degrees

    • A short time can be spent getting things off the floor (high marginal benefit, low marginal cost).

    • More time can be spent with vacuuming and straightening (moderate marginal benefit, moderate marginal cost).

    • Even more time can be spent deep cleaning, removing stains from carpets, dusting all shelves and moving furniture so as to clean behind them (for most low marginal benefit and high marginal cost.)


Modeling environmental cleanup

Marginal Cost Marginal Benefit

Marginal Cost

Marginal Benefit

EQ*

Environmental Quality

Modeling Environmental Cleanup


The externalities approach

The Externalities Approach

  • Externalities are the effects of a transaction that hurt or help people who are not a part of that transaction.

  • When a product affects someone other than the consumer of producer in a negative way, such as pollution, economists suggest that the market has failed.


When the market works for everyone

P

Supply

A

P*

C

B

Demand

0

Q*

Q/t

When the Market Works for Everyone

  • Value to the Consumer:

    • 0ACQ*

  • Consumers Pay Producers:

    • OP*CQ*

  • The Variable Cost to Producers:

    • OBCQ*

  • Consumer Surplus:

    • P*AC

  • Producer Surplus:

    • BP*C


When externalities are present

When Externalities are Present

  • If there are externalities then there is overproduction of a good.

  • The total cost of a good to society (called social cost) includes the costs of production incurred by the firm as well as the external costs.


When the market does not work for everyone

Social Cost

External Cost

P

SMarginal Cost

P’

P*

D(Marginal Benefit)

0

Q’

Q*

Q/t

When the Market Does Not Work for Everyone


The property rights approach

The Property Rights Approach

  • Coase’s Theorem

    • If there are no costs of bargaining between people and polluters then by assigning a property right (either the right of the firm to pollute or the right of people to be free from pollution) people and firms can negotiate to the correct level of production.


Why coase s theorem makes sense

Why Coase’s Theorem Makes Sense

  • People do not pollute up their own private property nearly as much as they pollute Common Property.

    • Common Property is not owned by any individual but is owned by government or has some other collective ownership property.

  • This is because when they do they are removing value from themselves.


Problems with coase s theorem

Problems with Coase’s Theorem

  • It is impossible for companies to negotiate with millions of citizens affected by their pollution.

  • The system picks a winner and a loser when it establishes the property right.


Various environmental problems and their solutions

Various Environmental Problems and their Solutions

  • Problems of

    • Water pollution, Air Pollution, Extinction of Species, Acid Rain, Global Warming

  • Legal Solutions

    • Clean Water Act

    • Clean Air Act

    • Endangered Species Act


Legal vs economic solutions

Legal vs. Economic Solutions

  • Legal solutions to environment problems typically limit or make illegal activities that harm the environment.

  • Economic solutions to environmental problems tend to discourage activities that harm the environment by making the people doing the harm recognize the cost of that harm.


Taxation as an economic solution

S+tax

tax

Taxation as an Economic Solution

P

SMarginal Cost

P’

P*

D(Marginal Benefit)

Q’

Q*

0

Q/t


Other economic solutions

Other Economic Solutions

  • Emission permits for SO2 in the Clean Air Act of 1990.

  • California’s old-car purchases


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