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Borders & The Environment

57 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2008  

Andrew P. Morriss

Texas A&M School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Roger E. Meiners

University of Texas at Arlington

Date Written: August 18, 2008


Despite regular acknowledgment of the interconnectedness of global ecosystems, government policies at the national level focuses on environmental problems within their borders. As a result, the level of public and private resources expended on environmental protection in rich and poor countries is dramatically different on both a per capita and an absolute basis. While this outcome is readily explained by the politics of environmental issues, in which voters reward governments for domestic expenditures but are skeptical of expenditures outside the jurisdiction, these differences mean that the total amount of environmental quality purchased across nations is lower than it could be. It means that some nations are purchasing small, expensive increments in environmental quality while large, low-cost increments in other jurisdictions are not purchased. By applying the principles of marginal analysis from economics, this article demonstrates that this produces both less total environmental quality and treats residents of rich and poor countries different in a morally unacceptable way. The authors propose that governments provide more transparent cost and benefit information to allow public discussion of such differential treatment and to encourage environmental gains from wherever most efficiently achievable.

Suggested Citation

Morriss, Andrew P. and Meiners, Roger E., Borders & The Environment (August 18, 2008). U Illinois Law & Economics Research Paper No. LE08-019. Available at SSRN: or

Andrew Morriss (Contact Author)

Texas A&M School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce Street
Fort Worth, TX 76133
United States

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center ( email )

2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Roger Meiners

University of Texas at Arlington ( email )

415 S West St Apt no 205
Arlington, TX 76013
United States

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