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Thu, Oct 28


NC State

Corbett Grainger, University of Wisconsin

"Reverse Grandfathering"

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Corbett Grainger, University of Wisconsin
Corbett Grainger, University of Wisconsin

Time & Location

Oct 28, 2021, 3:00 PM – 4:15 PM

NC State, Bostian Hall 3712, 2721 Pillsbury Circle, Raleigh, NC 27695

About the Event

Natural resources such as carbon, water, forests, and fish are increasingly managed with environmental markets. The first step in implementing such a market is the initial allocation of property rights; these rights are often “grandfathered” based on historical use. We ask how grandfathering, or any other allocation rule, impacts extraction incentives, resource stocks, and welfare before the market goes into place. We show theoretically that if currently-unregulated firms anticipate a future market where rights will be grandfathered, this distorts incentives and induces a race for

allocation before the market goes into effect. This behavioral response to the anticipation of grandfathering exacerbates externalities and reduces welfare, even below the unregulated equilibrium. We derive an alternative allocation rule called “Reverse- Grandfathering” that rewards prudence from the past; this significantly improves on unregulated outcomes and, under certain conditions, can replicate first-best, marketlike firm behavior before the market is implemented. Like traditional grandfathering, Reverse-Grandfathering provides a free lump-sum allocation to historical participants, but it does so while reversing the firm’s marginal incentives prior to the market being established. This adjustment gives rise to three design challenges: inducing entry, incentive compatibility, and political economy. We apply our theoretical approach to a structural model of a hypothetical, but plausible, property rights system regulating fishing on the high seas, which is parameterized using satellite tracks from 4,898 high seas fishing vessels in 2019. In that setting, we find that Reverse Grandfathering raises welfare, resource stocks, and equilibrium extraction by economically significant

margins relative to traditional grandfathering.


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