Pollution has been with us for a long time. In the fourteenth century, a royal document complained about the ‘abominable and most filthy stinks’ generated by the activities of London butchers in Seacoal Lane. In the sixteenth century, laws were passed prohibiting the use of coal fires in London, and in the 1850s sheets were hung over the House of Commons’ windows to try and reduce the smell of the Thames. Recently, however, concern over what is termed ‘the destruction of the environment’ has reached new peaks. This is partly because the volume of waste generated by our expanding society is itself expanding correspondingly, and partly because the satisfaction of more immediate needs by past economic growth has led to an increase in the demand for environment-oriented activities. To fish or swim in unpolluted rivers; to walk or climb in unspoilt areas of natural beauty; to look at clean buildings undamaged by air pollution; or simply to live in a clean, quiet environment: all these seem to have acquired a more important place in our society’s scale of values in recent decades. This increased concern has led to a corresponding expansion in interest in the economics of pollution.


Social Cost Direct Regulation External Cost Efficient Level Market System 
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Copyright information

© Julian Le Grand and Ray Robinson 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of SussexUK

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