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Indiana University

Woo Hyun Chung


Public Affairs

Exam and Minor Fields:

Major: Policy Analysis & Environmental Policy
Minor: Business Economics and Public Policy (Kelley School of Business)

Special Skills and/or Knowledge Base:

Quantitative analysis; microeconomic theory

Dissertation Title:

Jurisdictional Competition and Environment Policy: on the strategic behavior of state governments in the U.S. federal system and geographically differential regulation

Dissertation Committee:

  • Evan J. Ringquist (Chair)
  • A. James Barnes
  • Michael McGuire
  • Andrew B. Whitford

Current Dissertation Progress and Expected Defense Date:

Progress: Proposal defended, and one of three empirical chapters finished
Expected Defense Date: May 2010

Dissertation Abstract:

When environmental policies are devolved to local jurisdictions, the jurisdictions may engage in strategic behavior that is harmful to the society. First, the jurisdictions anticipating trans-boundary spillover of pollution may try to free-ride on each other by excessively lowering the level of regulation (trans-boundary free-riding, TBFR). Also, they may participate in detrimental competition of lowering regulation in order to attract more businesses in their jurisdictions (domestic pollution haven, DPH). As a consequence of these strategic behaviors, jurisdictional borders may suffer disproportionate burden of environmental degradation, which I term geographically differential regulation.

Despite several attempts, the literature still fails to provide a comprehensive understanding of the strategic behavior. How and to what extent does this strategic motivation manifest itself in regulatory behaviors and environmental outcomes? And how would the two motivations of the strategic behavior (TBFR and DPH) lead to different consequences and how can we observationally distinguish between them?

My dissertation investigates into the strategic behavior of U.S. states, in the area of environmental regulatory policy. I first offer a theoretical discussion on the strategic behavior, including welfare implications and empirical strategies to uncover the underlying motivations (TBFR or DPH). Then I survey the design and implementation of current regulatory regime that may feed or curb the strategic motivations. Three econometric chapters will follow to detect, explain, and evaluate the strategic behavior, using two direct measures of regulatory behavior (the water discharge permits and the enforcement activities) and an environmental outcome measure of ambient water quality.