WorldCat Identities

Williams, Roberton C. 1972-

Works: 26 works in 168 publications in 1 language and 1,780 library holdings
Roles: Author, Editor
Classifications: HB1, 339.220973
Publication Timeline
Most widely held works by Roberton C Williams
Trends in family income : 1970-1986 by Roberton C Williams( )

2 editions published in 1988 in English and held by 300 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Implementing a US carbon tax : challenges and debates by Ian W. H Parry( Book )

9 editions published in 2015 in English and held by 233 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Although the future extent and effects of global climate change remain uncertain, the expected damages are not zero, and risks of serious environmental and macroeconomic consequences rise with increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Despite the uncertainties, reducing emissions now makes sense, and a carbon tax is the simplest, most effective, and least costly way to do this. At the same time, a carbon tax would provide substantial new revenues which may be badly needed, given historically high debt-to-GDP levels, pressures on social security and medical budgets, and calls to reform taxes on personal and corporate income. This book is about the practicalities of introducing a carbon tax, set against the broader fiscal context. It consists of thirteen chapters, written by leading experts, covering the full range of issues policymakers would need to understand, such as the revenue potential of a carbon tax, how the tax can be administered, the advantages of carbon taxes over other mitigation instruments and the environmental and macroeconomic impacts of the tax. A carbon tax can work in the United States. This volume shows how, by laying out sound design principles, opportunities for broader policy reforms, and feasible solutions to specific implementation challenges.--
The usual excess-burden approximation usually doesn't come close by Lawrence H Goulder( Book )

12 editions published in 1999 in English and held by 117 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This paper shows that the usual excess-burden triangle' formula performs poorly when used to assess the excess burden from taxes on intermediate inputs or consumer goods, and derives a practical alternative to this formula. We use an analytically tractable general equilibrium model to reveal how interactions with pre-existing taxes in other markets critically affect the excess burden of new taxes on intermediate inputs or consumer goods. The usual excess-burden formula ignores these interactions, and consequently yields highly inaccurate assessments of excess burden. Prior economic theory implicitly acknowledges the relevance of general-equilibrium interactions to excess burden, but does not indicate which interactions are most important or reveal the fundamental (first-order) contribution of these interactions. Moreover, prior studies do not offer a practical alternative to the usual excess-burden approximation. This paper helps fill the gap between theory and practice. First, it shows analytically that the importance of the interaction with a given pre-existing tax is roughly proportional to the amount of revenue raised by that tax. Second, the paper derives a practical alternative formula for approximating the excess burden from a commodity tax. Finally, it performs numerical simulations to illustrate the significance of adopting our alternative to the usual approximation formula. For realistic parameter values and a wide range of assumed rates for prior taxes, the usual formula captures less than half of the excess burden of taxes on commodities. When the rate of the new tax is small, ' this formula captures less than five percent of the true excess burden. In contrast, the alternative approximation formula derived here yields estimates that are consistently within five percent of the actual excess burden
Environmental tax interactions when pollution affects health or productivity by Roberton C Williams( Book )

15 editions published in 2000 in English and held by 111 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Numerous recent studies have indicated that interactions with a tax-distorted labor market increase the cost of pollution regulation. However, these studies have made restrictive assumptions regarding individual preferences and have ignored key links between pollution, human health, and labor productivity. Together, these assumptions imply that the benefits of regulation do not affect labor supply. This paper develops an analytically tractable general equilibrium model that allows regulation to provide benefits through several different channels, including improved health or productivity. The model shows that when the benefits of reduced pollution come in the form of improved health or productivity, the benefits do affect labor supply, and therefore create a benefit-side tax-interaction effect in addition to the familiar cost-side interaction. This effect can magnify or diminish the benefits of reduced pollution. When reduced pollution boosts labor productivity, the effect substantially magnifies such benefits. When pollution affects consumer health, the effect will tend to be opposite, diminishing the benefits of reduced pollution. This result is of far more than just theoretical interest; the benefit-side interaction is of the same magnitude as the cost-side interaction, and thus can fundamentally affect the optimal level of regulation. The paper considers only environmental regulation, but the concepts developed here apply equally to other policies affecting productivity or health, such as research subsidies or occupational safety regulations
When can carbon abatement policies increase welfare? : the fundamental role of distorted factor markets by Ian W. H Parry( Book )

12 editions published in 1997 in English and held by 110 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This paper employs analytical and numerical general equilibrium models to assess the efficiency impacts of two policies to reduce U.S. carbon emissions -- a carbon tax and a carbon quota -- taking into account the inter- actions between these policies and pre-existing tax distortions in factor markets. We show that tax interactions significantly raise the costs of both policies relative to what they would be in a first-best setting. In addition, we show that these interactions put the carbon quota at a signficant efficiency disadvantage relative to the carbon tax: the costs of reducing emissions by 10 % are more than three times higher under the carbon quota than than under the carbon tax. This disadvantage reflects the inability of the quota policy to generate revenue that can be used to reduce pre-existing dis- tortionary taxes. Indeed, second-best considerations severely limit the potential of a carbon quota to general overall efficiency gains. Under our central estimates, a non-auctioned carbon quota (or set of grandfathered carbon emissions permits) cannot increase efficiency unless the marginal benefits from avoided future climate change are at least $25 per ton of carbon abatement. Most estimates of these marginal environmental benefits are well below $25 per ton. Thus, our analysis suggests that any carbon abatement by way of a non-auctioned quota will be efficiency-reducing. In contrast, a revenue-neutral carbon tax is found to be efficiency-improving so long as marginal environmental benefits are positive
Health effects in a model of second-best environmental taxation, or, reconsidering "reconsidering the tax-interaction effect" by Roberton C Williams( Book )

14 editions published in 2000 in English and held by 109 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

The literature on environmental taxation in the presence of pre-existing distortionary taxes has shown that the interactions with pre-existing taxes tend to raise the cost of an environmental tax, and thus that the optimal environmental tax in that context is less than marginal environmental damages. A recent paper by Schwartz and Repetto (2000) challenges this finding, arguing that the health benefits from reduced pollution will also interact with pre-existing taxes, possibly causing the optimal environmental tax to exceed marginal environmental damages. Schwartz and Repetto's analysis aimed to account for health effects by representing environmental quality and leisure as substitutes in utility. The present paper employs an analytically tractable general equilibrium model that, in contrast with Schwartz and Repetto's analysis, explicitly considers health effects. It shows that interactions with health effects from pollution actually will tend to reduce the optimal environmental tax. This result contradicts Schwartz and Repetto's conclusion. This demonstrates the usefulness of explicitly modeling health effects, and it reinforces the general notion that tax-interactions tend to raise the costs of an environmental tax
Estimates from a consumer demand system : implications for the incidence of environmental taxes by Sarah E West( Book )

12 editions published in 2002 in English and held by 107 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Abstract: Most studies suggest that environmental taxes are regressive, and thus are unattractive policy options. We consider the distributional effects of a gasoline tax increase using three welfare measures and under three scenarios for gas tax revenue use. To incorporate behavioral responses we use Consumer Expenditure Survey data to estimate a consumer demand system that includes gasoline, other goods, and leisure. We find that the gas tax is regressive, but that returning the revenue through a lump-sum transfer more than offsets this, yielding a net increase in progressivity. We also find that ignoring behavioral changes in distributional calculations overstates both the overall burden of the tax and its regressivity
Prices vs. quantities vs. tradable quantities by Roberton C Williams( Book )

11 editions published in 2002 in English and held by 104 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Abstract: This paper extends Weitzman's (1974) seminal paper comparing price and quantity instruments for regulation to consider a third option: tradable quantity regulations, such as tradable permits. Contrary to what prior work has suggested, fixed quantities may be more efficient than tradable quantities if the regulated goods are not perfect substitutes, even when trading ratios are based on the ratio of expected marginal benefits between goods, not simply one-for-one. Indeed, when benefits are independent across goods, or when the goods are complements, tradable quantities are never the most efficient instrument. This theory is applied to dynamic pollution problems, and suggests that permit banking should be allowed for stock pollutants, but not for flow pollutants. These results indicate that many regulations, including the current sulfur dioxide trading program and proposed greenhouse gas regulations, are inefficient
Empirical estimates for environmental policy making in a second-best setting by Sarah E West( )

10 editions published in 2004 in English and held by 94 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This study estimates parameters necessary to calculate the optimal second-best gasoline tax, most notably the cross-price elasticity between gasoline and leisure. Prior work indicates that in a second-best setting with distortionary income taxes, both the cost of environmental regulation and the optimal environmental tax rate depend crucially on the cross-price elasticity between a polluting good and leisure. However, no prior study on second-best environmental regulation has estimated this elasticity. Using household data, we find that gasoline is a relative complement to leisure, and thus that the optimal gasoline tax is significantly higher than marginal damages the opposite of the result suggested by the prior literature. Following this approach to estimate cross-price elasticities with leisure for other major polluting goods could strongly influence estimates of optimal environmental taxes
A simple model of optimal hate crime legislation by Li Gan( Book )

10 editions published in 2004 in English and held by 92 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

We present a simple model of the effects of hate crime legislation. It shows that even if the direct harm to victims of hate crime is the same as for other crimes, because of other differences in the effects it may still be optimal to exert more law-enforcement effort to deter or prevent hate crime. These differences also have previously unrecognized effects on the optimal level of effort by potential hate crime victims to avoid being victimized, thus affecting the efficiency of government policies that encourage or discourage such effort. We discuss the implications of these results for optimal hate-crime policy, as well as for policy toward other similar crimes, such as terrorism
Growing state-federal conflicts in environmental policy : the role of market-based regulation by Roberton C Williams( )

7 editions published in 2010 in English and held by 64 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

In recent years, cases in which state governments chose to override federal environmental regulation with tighter regulations of their own have become increasingly common, even for pollutants that have substantial spillovers across states. This paper argues that this change arose at least in part because of a shift in the type of regulation used at the federal level, from command-and-control regulation toward more incentive-based regulation. Under an incentive-based federal regulation, a state imposing a tighter regulation will bear only part of the additional cost, and thus has more incentive to tighten regulation than it does under federal command-and-control. This difference helps to explain observed patterns of regulation. In addition, it has implications for the choice of regulatory instruments. For a pollutant that causes both local and spillover damage, a federal pollution tax is likely to yield a more efficient outcome than federal command-and-control policy or a federal system of tradable permits
Setting the initial time-profile of climate policy : the economics of environmental policy phase-ins by Roberton C Williams( )

7 editions published in 2010 in English and held by 64 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This paper considers the question of under what circumstances a new environmental regulation should "phase in' gradually over time, rather than being immediately implemented at full force. The paper focuses particularly on climate policy, though its insights are more general. It shows that while adjustment costs provide a strong efficiency argument for phasing in a quantity-based regulation (or allowing intertemporal flexibility that creates the equivalent of a phase-in), this argument does not apply for price-based regulation. Indeed, in many cases, it will be more efficient to do just the opposite, setting an initially very high emissions price that then falls as the policy phases in. This difference in results comes not from any fundamental difference between price and quantity policies: under either policy, the efficient quantity of abatement rises over time, while the efficient price stays constant or even falls. But other considerations, such as distributional concerns or monitoring and enforcement issues, may still argue for a gradual phase-in even for a price-based policy
The choice of discount rate for climate change policy evaluation by Lawrence H Goulder( )

7 editions published in 2012 in English and held by 59 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Nearly all discussions about the appropriate consumption discount rate for climate-change policy evaluation assume that a single discount rate concept applies. We argue that two distinct concepts and associated rates apply. We distinguish a social-welfare-equivalent discount rate appropriate for determining whether a given policy would augment social welfare (according to a postulated social welfare function) and a finance-equivalent discount rate suitable for determining whether the policy would offer a potential Pareto improvement. Distinguishing the two rates helps resolve arguments as to whether the choice of discount rate should be based on ethical considerations or empirical information (such as market interest rates), and about whether the discount rate should serve a prescriptive or descriptive role. Separating out the two rates also helps clarify disputes about the appropriate stringency of climate change policy. We find that the structure of leading numerical optimization models used for climate policy analysis may have helped contribute to the blurring of the differences between the two rates. In addition, we indicate that uncertainty about underlying ethical parameters or market conditions implies that both rates should decline as the time-horizon increases
What are the costs of meeting distributional objectives for climate policy? by Ian W. H Parry( )

6 editions published in 2010 in English and held by 59 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This paper develops an analytical model to quantify the costs and distributional effects of various fiscal options for allocating the (large) rents created under prospective cap-and-trade programs to reduce domestic, energy-related CO2 emissions. The trade-off between cost effectiveness and distribution is striking. The welfare costs of different policies, accounting for linkages with the broader fiscal system, range from negative $6 billion/year to $53 billion/year in 2020, or between minus $12 to almost $100 per ton of CO2 reductions! The least costly policy involves auctioning all allowances with revenues used to cut proportional income taxes, while the most costly policies involve recycling revenues in lump-sum dividends or grandfathering emissions allowances. The least costly policy is regressive, however, while the dividend policy is progressive, and grandfathering permits is both costly and regressive. A distribution-neutral policy entails costs of $18 to $42 per ton of CO2 reductions
General Equilibrium Impacts of a Federal Clean Energy Standard by Lawrence H Goulder( )

5 editions published in 2014 in English and held by 47 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Economists have tended to view cap and trade (or, more generally, emissions pricing) as more cost-effective than a clean energy standard (CES) for the purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation. This stems in part from the finding that, in terms of cost-effectiveness, a CES relies too much on emissions abatement through the channel of fuel-switching and too little on the channel of reduced electricity demand. Recent research reveals, however, that the CES has an advantage over cap and trade in a different dimension. In a realistic economy with prior taxes on factors of production, the adverse "tax-interaction effect" is smaller under the CES than under the equivalent cap-and-trade program. This raises the possibility that the CES might not suffer an overall disadvantage relative to cap and trade on cost-effectiveness grounds. This paper employs analytical and numerical general equilibrium models to assess the relative cost-effectiveness of the CES and an electricity-sector cap-and-trade program. These models reveal that a well-designed CES can be more cost-effective than cap and trade when relatively minor reductions in emissions are called for. Numerical simulations indicate that the cost-effectiveness of the CES is sensitive to what is deemed "clean" electricity. To achieve maximal cost-effectiveness, the CES must offer significant credit to electricity generated from natural gas
Environmental Taxation by Roberton C Williams( )

5 editions published in 2016 in English and held by 35 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This paper examines potential environmental tax policy reforms. It focuses primarily on a carbon tax, but also more briefly considers a range of other possible changes. These include revising or eliminating various energy and environmental tax credits and deductions (many of which might become unnecessary in the presence of a carbon tax), as well as changes to energy taxes that have substantial environmental implications (such as the federal gasoline tax). The paper draws on recent theoretical and empirical research to evaluate the effects of such reforms on tax revenue, pollution emissions, economic efficiency, and income distribution
Unemployment and environmental regulation in general equilibrium by Marc A. C Hafstead( )

5 editions published in 2016 in English and held by 35 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This paper analyzes the effects of environmental policy on employment (and unemployment) using a new general-equilibrium two-sector search model. We find that imposing a pollution tax causes substantial reductions in employment in the regulated (polluting) industry, but this is offset by increased employment in the unregulated (nonpolluting) sector. Thus the policy causes a substantial shift in employment between industries, but the net effect on overall employment (and unemployment) is small, even in the short run. An environmental performance standard causes a substantially smaller sectoral shift in employment than the emissions tax, with roughly similar net effects. The effects on the unregulated industry suggest that empirical studies of environmental regulation that focus only on regulated firms can be misleading (and those that use nonregulated firms as controls for regulated firms will be even more misleading). The paper's results also suggest that overall effects on employment are not a major issue for environmental policy, and that policymakers who want to minimize sectoral shifts in employment might prefer performance standards over environmental taxes
Environmental policy, full-employment models, and employment : a critical analysis by Marc A. C Hafstead( )

4 editions published in 2018 in English and held by 13 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Abstract: This paper assesses the use of full-employment computable-general equilibrium (CGE) models to predict the labor-market effects of environmental policy. Specifically, it compares the predictions of a standard full-employment CGE model with those of a new search-CGE model with labor-search frictions and resulting unemployment (but that is otherwise identical to the full-employment model). The search-CGE captures key labor market details, including a distinction between the extensive margin of labor demand (the number of employees) and the intensive margin (the number of hours each employee works). We find that some key results are robust across the two models, such as the reallocation of labor across sectors in response to a carbon tax and the overall change in total labor demand. However, the full-employment model seriously overestimates the economy-wide net change in the number of jobs (by a factor of more than 2.5 for a carbon tax with revenues returned lump-sum to households, and by a factor of almost 3.5 when carbon tax revenues are used to reduce payroll taxes)
The incidence of pollution control policies by Ian W. H Parry( )

4 editions published in 2005 in English and held by 12 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This paper reviews theoretical and empirical literature on the household distribution of the costs and benefits of pollution control policies, and ways of integrating distributional issues into environmental cost/benefit analysis. Most studies find that policy costs fall disproportionately on poorer groups, though this is less pronounced when lifetime income is used, and policies affect prices of inputs used pervasively across the economy. The policy instrument itself is also critical; freely allocated emission permits may hurt the poor the most, as they transfer income to shareholders via scarcity rents created by higher prices, while emissions taxes offer opportunities for progressive revenue recycling. And although low-income households appear to bear a disproportionate share of environmental risks, policies that reduce risks are not always progressive, for example, they may alter property values in ways that benefit the wealthy. The review concludes by noting a number of areas where future research is badly needed
The cost-effectiveness of alternative instruments for environmental protection in a second-best setting by Lawrence H Goulder( )

3 editions published in 1998 in English and held by 5 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This paper uses analytical and numerical general equilibrium models to study the costs of achieving pollution reductions under a range of environmental policy instruments in a second-best setting with pre-existing factor taxes. We compare the costs and efficiency impacts of emissions taxes, emissions quotas, fuels taxes, performance standards, and mandated technologies, and explore how costs change with the magnitude of pre-existing taxes and the extent of pollution abatement. We find that the presence of distortionary taxes raises the costs of pollution abatement under each instrument relative to its costs in a first-best world. This extra cost is an increasing function of the magnitude of pre-existing tax rates. For plausible values of pre-existing tax rates and other parameters, the cost increase for all policies is substantial (35 % or more). The impact of pre-existing taxes is large for non-auctioned emissions quotas, the cost increase can be several hundred percent. Earlier work on instrument choice emphasized the potential reduction in compliance cost from converting fixed emissions quotas into tradeable emissions permits. Our results show the regulator's decision to auction or grandfather emissions rights can have important cost impacts. Similarly, the choice of how to recycle revenues from environmentally motivated taxes can be as important to cost as whether the tax takes the form of an emissions tax or fuel tax, particularly when modest emissions reductions are involved. In both first- and second-best settings, the cost differences across instruments depend on the extent of pollution abatement under consideration. Total abatement costs differ markedly at low levels of abatement. Strikingly, for all instruments except the fuel tax these costs converge to the same value as abatement levels approach 100 percent
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Alternative Names
Roberton C. Williams economist (University of Maryland)

Roberton C. Williams Wirtschaftswissenschaftler (Tätig am Dept. of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Univ. of Maryland, College Park)

Williams, Robert C. III

Williams, Roberton C. 1972- III

Williams, Roberton C. III 1972-

Willimas, Roberton C. III

English (160)