European Journal of Law and Economics vol:39 issue:1 pages:11-35
We conduct a counterfactual analysis to measure the treatment difference between administrative and criminal enforcement of environmental violations. Our aim is to control for the selection bias effect and make a comparison of how similar offenses are treated in both enforcement tracks. This analysis is relevant to answer the question of how deterrence and welfare in a combined criminal-administrative enforcement system compare with an enforcement system relying on criminal penalization only. This is an important question given the observed shift towards two-track penalization systems, combining administrative and criminal penalization, for environmental enforcement in the European Union. We apply matching techniques on a unique dataset of environmental enforcement cases to control for sample selection bias. We match different enforcement cases, based on case characteristics and estimate the average treatment effect for these cases. Overall, we find that the marginal penalty is slightly lower in administrative enforcement compared to criminal enforcement.