International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics > Vol 11 > Issue 2

Voluntary Pollution Control under Threat of Regulation

Kathleen Segerson, Department of Economics, University of Connecticut, USA,
Suggested Citation
Kathleen Segerson (2018), "Voluntary Pollution Control under Threat of Regulation", International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics: Vol. 11: No. 2, pp 145-192.

Publication Date: 23 May 2018
© 2018 K. Segerson
Government programs and public policy,  Environmental economics,  Industrial organization,  Public economics,  Economic theory,  Collective action,  Principal-agent,  Climate change
Voluntary pollution controlregulatory threatsfree-riding


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In this article:
1. Introduction 
2. Regulatory Threats: An Overview of Issues 
3. Insights from the Theoretical Literature 
4. Empirical Evidence 
5. Conclusion 


This paper reviews the literature relating to the use of regulatory threats to induce voluntary pollution abatement. Some scholars have argued that voluntary approaches are most likely to be effective when accompanied by a strong regulatory threat (e.g., Bizer, 1999; Coglianese and Nash, 2016; Khanna and Damon, 1999). However, the use of threats raises a number of issues that do not arise in other contexts where voluntary abatement occurs in response to market-based or government-provided financial incentives. This provides the rationale for this review focused specifically on voluntary approaches with regulatory threats, which discusses both the advantages and disadvantages of using a threat-based approach and the implications of doing so, drawing on both the theoretical and empirical literature.