Economy-Wide Modeling, Environmental Macroeconomics, and Benefit-Cost Analysis

V. Kerry Smith and Min Qiang Zhao


This paper develops a new method for evaluating benefit estimates prepared for major environmental rules and addresses three criticisms of existing practices: (1) using benefit estimates from the literature without adjusting for the conceptual differences underlying their meaning, (2) ignoring feedback effects of policy, and (3) failing to recognize the potential for economy-wide effects of large policies. Our approach adapts a general equilibrium framework characteristic of macroeconomic models and focuses on the effects of introducing nonmarket environmental services into the aggregate or “stand-in” preference function. Two recent policies illustrate how it can be used to assess economy-wide effects. (JEL D61, H41)

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