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Effectiveness of Safety Regulations: A Study of U. S. Coast Guard Inspections, Detection of Violations, and Occurrence of Casualties

Resource Type
Dataset : event/transaction data, observational data
  • Gawande, Kishore (Texas A&M University)
  • Bohara, Alok (University of New Mexico)
Other Title
  • Version 1 (Subtitle)
Publication Date
Funding Reference
  • National Science Foundation
Free Keywords
government regulation; regulatory agencies; regulatory processes
  • Abstract

    This study addresses two issues in the enforcement of public law. The first is whether the system of inspections and penalties set by the regulator is effective. The second is whether a better system of inspections and penalties can be designed, given the institutional constraints under which the regulator must function. We study these issues in the context of oil spill prevention activities of the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the agency entrusted with the enforcement of maritime pollution laws. A theoretically optimal contract that mixes penalties based on the amount of pollution ex post with penalties based on the extent of noncompliance ex ante is derived. The effectiveness of USCG inspections and penalties in reducing oil spills is then econometrically studied using microlevel data on a panel of United States flag tank vessels. Whether the optimal penalty can potentially improve the effectiveness of compliance inspections in reducing oil spills is examined in the light of the empirical results and recent developments in the economics and public management literature on effective incentive contracting. Among our findings is the potential for combining unilateral incentive-based methods with cooperative methods based on reciprocity to solve the complex problem of law enforcement.
  • Table of Contents


    • DS1: Dataset
Temporal Coverage
  • 1999 / 2001
    Time period: 1999--2001
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Universe of ships in United States waters.
Collection Mode
  • The zipped package contains Stata, Excel, PDF, and text files, which provide data, tables, and figures used in the publication.

    These data are part of ICPSR's Publication-Related Archive and are distributed exactly as they arrived from the data depositor. ICPSR has not checked or processed this material. Users should consult the investigator(s) if further information is desired.

Funding insitution(s): National Science Foundation (9820269).
This study is freely available to the general public via web download.
Alternative Identifiers
  • 34624 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Gawande, Kishore, Bohara, Alok K.. Agency problems in law enforcement: Theory and application to the U.S. Coast Guard. Management Science.51, (11), 1593-1609.2005.
    • ID: 10.1287/mnsc.1050.0422 (DOI)
  • Moffett, Maurice, Gawande, Kishore, Bohara, Alok K.. Governance and performance: Evidence from the US Coast Guard. Policy Studies Journal.33, (2), 283-306.2005.
  • Gawande, Kishore, Wheeler,Timothy A.. Measures of Effectiveness for Governmental Organizations: A Study of the US Coast Guard. Management Science.45, (1), 42-58.1999.
    • ID: 10.1287/mnsc.45.1.42 (DOI)

Update Metadata: 2015-08-05 | Issue Number: 6 | Registration Date: 2015-06-16

Gawande, Kishore; Bohara, Alok (2013): Effectiveness of Safety Regulations: A Study of U. S. Coast Guard Inspections, Detection of Violations, and Occurrence of Casualties. Version 1. Version: v1. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.