Temporal displacement of environmental crime: Evidence from marine oil pollution

Last modified: 
April 21, 2017 - 4:54pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 03/2017
Authors: Ben Vollaard
Journal title: Journal of Environmental Economics and Management
Volume: 82
Pages: 168 - 180
ISSN: 00950696

We provide evidence for temporal displacement of illegal discharges of oil from shipping, a major source of ocean pollution, in response to a monitoring technology that features variation in the probability of conviction by time of day. During the nighttime, evidence collected by Coast Guard aircraft using radar becomes contestable in court because the nature of an identified spot cannot be verified visually by an observer on board of the aircraft. Seasonal variation in time of sunset is used to distinguish evasive behavior from daily routines on board. Using data from surveillance flights above the Dutch part of the North Sea during 1992–2011, we provide evidence for a sudden increase in illegal discharges after sunset across the year. Our results show that even a tiny chance of getting caught and a mild punishment can have a major impact on behavior.

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