Measuring the Benefits of Clean Air and Water

Measuring the Benefits of Clean Air and Water

Measuring the Benefits of Clean Air and Water

Measuring the Benefits of Clean Air and Water

Synopsis

Kneese examines issues surrounding benefits assessment, including such tools as bidding games, surveys, property value studies, wage differentials, risk reduction evaluation, and mortality and morbidity cost estimation. He discusses methods for quantitatively estimating benefits derived from the maintenance or improvement of air and water quality. Suitable for undergraduate classroom use.

Excerpt

It was not so very long ago that welfare economists dismissed physical externality problems as being limited to bucolic phenomena such as the relation between bee colonies and orchard pollination. And it remains true today that many scientists, policymakers, and interested citizens regard the application of economic principles to pollution problems-- the arch example of physical externalities in the industrial world--as foolish, pointless, and even as evil.

Yet in the last twenty years, much has happened to make both these positions obsolete. On the one hand, pioneers--such as the author of this book--brought together threads from welfare economics with reasoning from the environmental sciences to create the new field of environmental economics. On the other, more and more citizens apparently have been persuaded that the pursuit of the perfectly clean and perfectly safe environment will involve either unacceptably high costs or unacceptably intrusive government regulation, or both.

Once it becomes politically possible to ask how clean and how safe, the tools of the economist become relevant to the debate. For a large subset of the body politic that moment of possibility was signaled in February 1981, when President Reagan issued his Executive Order 12291. This order requires the performance of benefit-cost analyses in connection . . .

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