Political institutions and the design of environmental policy in a federal system with asymmetric information
European Economic Review, 42, (3-5), . (doi:10.1016/S0014-2921(97)00116-5).
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Policy debates on trade and the environment frequently refer to a need for countries linked by trade to co-ordinate, or even harmonise, their purely domestic environmental policies. Underlying this argument is a concern that national governments will not fully internalise environmental externalities. Conventional trade models suggest this concern is unwarranted and harmonisation may be damaging. In this paper, I consider two possible bases for this concern – strategic trade and political economy considerations – and assess the implications for the design of policy and political institutions to achieve co-ordination. A model which links these two factors suggests a possible rationale for harmonisation of environmental policies, even when countries differ significantly with respect to environmental damage costs.
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