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Beliefs, politics, and environmental policy

Millner, Antony and Olivier, Helene (2016) Beliefs, politics, and environmental policy. Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 10 (2). pp. 226-244. ISSN 1750-6824

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Identification Number: 10.1093/reep/rew010

Abstract

Experts and the general public often perceive environmental problems differently. Moreover, regulatory responses to environmental issues often do not coincide with consensus expert recommendations. These two facts are mutually consistent – it is unlikely that regulations based on factual claims that are substantially different from voters’ opinions would be politically feasible. Given that the public’s beliefs constrain policy choices, it is vital to understand how beliefs are formed, whether they will be biased, and how the inevitable heterogeneity in people’s beliefs filters through the political system to affect policy. We review recent theoretical and empirical work on individual inference, social learning, and the supply of information by the media, and identify the potential for biased beliefs to arise. We then examine the interaction between beliefs and politics: can national elections and legislative votes be expected to result in unbiased collective decisions, do heterogeneous beliefs induce strategic political actors to alter their policy choices, and how do experts and lobby groups affect the information available to policy-makers? We conclude by suggesting that the relationship between beliefs and policy choices is a relatively neglected aspect of the theory of environmental regulation, and a fruitful area for further research.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://reep.oxfordjournals.org/
Additional Information: © 2016 The Authors © CC BY 4.0
Divisions: Grantham Research Institute
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making > D72 - Economic Models of Political Processes: Rent-Seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
D - Microeconomics > D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making > D78 - Positive Analysis of Policy-Making and Implementation
D - Microeconomics > D8 - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty > D83 - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief
P - Economic Systems > P4 - Other Economic Systems > P48 - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights
Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics > Q5 - Environmental Economics > Q50 - General
Sets: Research centres and groups > Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2016 15:15
Last Modified: 20 May 2019 02:07
Projects: ES/K006576/1
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/67299

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