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An Experimental Study of Auctions versus Grandfathering to Assign Pollution Permits


Goeree, Jacob K; Holt, Charles A; Palmer, Karen; Shobe, Wiliam; Burtraw, Dallas (2009). An Experimental Study of Auctions versus Grandfathering to Assign Pollution Permits. Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics No. 429, University of Zurich.

Abstract

We experimentally study auctions versus grandfathering in the initial assignment of pollution permits that can be traded in a secondary spot market. Low and high emitters compete for permits in the auction, while permits are assigned for free under grandfathering. In theory, trading in the spot market should erase inefficiencies due to initial mis-allocations.nIn the experiment, high emitters exercise market power in the spot market and permit holdings under grandfathering remain skewed towards high emitters. Furthermore, the opportunity costs of “free” permits are fully “passed through.” In the auction, the majority of permits are won by low emitters, reducing the need for spot-market trading. Auctions generate higher consumer surplus and slightly lower product prices in the laboratory markets. Moreover, auctions eliminate the large “windfall profits” that are observed in the treatmentnwith free, grandfathered permit allocations.

We experimentally study auctions versus grandfathering in the initial assignment of pollution permits that can be traded in a secondary spot market. Low and high emitters compete for permits in the auction, while permits are assigned for free under grandfathering. In theory, trading in the spot market should erase inefficiencies due to initial mis-allocations.nIn the experiment, high emitters exercise market power in the spot market and permit holdings under grandfathering remain skewed towards high emitters. Furthermore, the opportunity costs of “free” permits are fully “passed through.” In the auction, the majority of permits are won by low emitters, reducing the need for spot-market trading. Auctions generate higher consumer surplus and slightly lower product prices in the laboratory markets. Moreover, auctions eliminate the large “windfall profits” that are observed in the treatmentnwith free, grandfathered permit allocations.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Institute for Empirical Research in Economics (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:September 2009
Deposited On:29 Nov 2011 20:09
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:09
Series Name:Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics
ISSN:1424-0459
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/wp.html
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-51881

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