NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
loading...

Technology and the Effectiveness of Regulatory Programs Over Time: Vehicle Emissions and Smog Checks with a Changing Fleet

Nicholas J. Sanders, Ryan Sandler

NBER Working Paper No. 23966
Issued in October 2017
NBER Program(s):Environment and Energy Economics

Personal automobile emissions are a major source of urban air pollution. Many U.S. states control emissions through mandated vehicle inspections and repairs. But there is little empirical evidence directly linking mandated inspections, maintenance, and local air pollution levels. To test for a link, we estimate the contemporaneous effect of inspections on local air quality. We use day-to-day, within-county variation in the number of vehicles repaired and recertified after failing an initial emissions inspection, with individual-level data from 1998–2012 from California’s inspection program. Additional re-inspections of pre-1985 model year vehicles reduce local carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter levels, while re-inspections of newer vehicles with more modern engine technology have no economically significant effect on air pollution. This suggests emissions inspections have become less effective at reducing local air pollution as more high-polluting vehicles from the 1970s and 1980s leave the road, and provides an example of how the social efficiency of programs can change under improving technologies. We also estimate the importance of station quality, using a metric devised for California’s new STAR certification program. We show re-inspections of older vehicles conducted by low quality inspection stations do not change air pollution, while inspections at high quality stations have a moderate effect on pollution concentrations, which suggests the potential for ineffective monitoring at low quality inspection stations. We find little effect on ambient ozone levels, regardless of station quality or vehicle age.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23966

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Rees-Jones and Taubinsky w23980 Taxing Humans: Pitfalls of the Mechanism Design Approach and Potential Resolutions
Bailey, Malkova, and McLaren w23971 Does Parents’ Access to Family Planning Increase Children’s Opportunities? Evidence from the War on Poverty and the Early Years of Title X
Clemens and Ippolito w23965 Implications of Medicaid Financing Reform for State Government Budgets
Zhang, Deschenes, Meng, and Zhang w23991 Temperature Effects on Productivity and Factor Reallocation: Evidence from a Half Million Chinese Manufacturing Plants
Einav and Finkelstein w24055 Moral Hazard in Health Insurance: What We Know and How We Know It
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us