Title

Reducing environmental risks by information disclosure

Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Public Administration

Advisor(s)

David Popp

Keywords

Environmental risks, Information disclosure, Lead paint, Toxic Release Inventory

Subject Categories

Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

Abstract

This dissertation explores information disclosure policy as an environmental regulatory tool. In particular, it analyzes the impact of government-required disclosure of information about environmental risks on polluters' environmental performance and on information recipients' behavior. By examining the impacts and outcomes of information disclosure strategies in the realm of environmental policy, this study tries to identify how this information disclosure policy operates as a regulatory tool and why it does or does not work. In addition, this dissertation addresses various issues associated with environmental disclosure and suggests policy implications for enhancing its effectiveness.

Three essays analyzing two examples of information disclosure strategy in environmental regulations are used in this dissertation. The first essay explores the establishment of the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) in 1986, which shows the organizational-level dynamic of information disclosure policy, and examines the importance of providing accurate information with a true indicator of users' interests in exercising information disclosure strategies.

The second and third essays analyze the impact of the residential lead based paint disclosure rule in 1996 (Title X), which provides the opportunity to take a micro perspectives view of individual level responses to disclosed information. The second essay examines the impact of this information on homebuyers' or homeowners' risk reduction behaviors such as testing for lead or maintenance behavior. What Title X attempts to do is induce individuals to manage existing lead paint risks with proper maintenance without impacting the housing market. If the policy leads to a price reduction in homes at risk of lead paint exposure, these homes will become more affordable; however households with limited resources will then have a greater risk of exposure to lead paint. Thus, the third essay is an attempt to evaluate whether Title X worked as intended on the targeted group by examining whether the policy created any impact on the housing market.

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