Command-and-control regulation, incentive for pollution abatement, and market structure

Ping LIN, Yu PANG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper analyzes the effect of command-and-control regulation on firms’ incentives for pollution abatement, market structure, and social welfare. We consider a regulation under which firms are not allowed to produce if they were found in noncompliance with the preset emissions standard during the government’s imperfect inspection. In the case of the ex ante monopoly, a loose standard coupled with an intensive inspection effectively induces perfect compliance. In the case of the ex ante duopoly, the intensified inspection directly creates market entry barriers, but it also induces firms to increase abatement investments for better environmental compliance, which indirectly promotes market competition. Moreover, a firm invests more in pollution abatement if it is initially cleaner or more production-efficient than its rival, or if it has fewer potential rival. We also find that regulatory tightening may harm social welfare by reducing the probability of entry, and social welfare may be higher under monopoly than under duopoly when government inspection is sufficiently intensive.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-180
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Regulatory Economics
Issue number2
Early online date1 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

The funding was provided by Macau Higher Education Bureau (44/GCI/GAES/2018).

We are indebted to the anonymous reviewer for valuable comments and suggestions that lead to a substantial improvement of our paper. We also benefit from constructive comments of Dongkyu Chang, Ara Jo, Yue Ma, and Yong Wang, and participants of seminar in City University of Hong Kong and of the 6th World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists. Yu Pang gratefully acknowledges the financial support by Macau Higher Education Bureau (44/GCI/GAES/2018). All errors are our own.

The appendix will be available upon request from the corresponding author.


  • Emissions standard
  • Firm entry
  • Imperfect inspection
  • Pollution abatement

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