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Teaching activity

Evaluating government intervention

Penny Brooks

18th April 2018

Listening to Radio 4's 'Yesterday in Parliament' this morning, I heard a 4-minute report about a debate around what can be done to cure the issue of fly tipping in rural and urban England. This strikes me as a very good stimulus to analyse and evaluate the best form of government intervention to prevent negative externalities of consumption (- although I guess it could be taken as negative externalities of production as well).

Fly-tipping is the illegal disposal of household, industrial, commercial or other 'controlled' waste without a waste management licence

It is pretty well timed for most students at the moment, as they prepare for exam questions along the lines of 'Evaluate different methods of government intervention to reduce negative externalities caused by fly tipping' or 'To what extent do you agree that fines for fly tipping are the best way of reducing the negative externalities that it causes'.

The video and radio reports below suggest a number of different issues from the Economics syllabus, including behavioural economics (herd behaviour, and using nudge techniques to change that behaviour), the cost and practicality of enforcement of regulations, and unintended consequences of introducing charges for 'legal' disposal of household goods such as furniture and fridges.

Here are a couple of video reports about the issue, one looking at the blight of fly tipping at a rural beauty spot near Merthyr Tydfil, and one looking at the problems in the London boroughs of Harrow, Wandsworth and Ealing. The radio report about the parliamentary debate, which summarises the problem and suggests a variety of different solutions, can be heard from this broadcast, starting at 19.45 minutes - but will only be available for the next 29 days, unfortunately - use it or lose it!

Penny Brooks

Formerly Head of Business and Economics and now Economics teacher, Business and Economics blogger and presenter for Tutor2u, and private tutor

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