ECO335 Public Economics I: Global Warming, Biodiversity Loss and Inequality

Learning Goal: I’m working on a economics writing question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

Public Economics (ECO335)

First Writing Assignment Public Policy Question: Should Plastic Packaging be Regulated?

We have noted that the appropriate scope of government is a central issue in Public Economics.

One key function of government involves regulating, when appropriate, the behaviour of consumers and firms. Such regulation may be appropriate because there are ‘externalities’ involved: that is, the action of someone or some firm affects others in ways that are not accounted for by the price system, and so may be ignored when the (money-oriented) agent causing the externality decides how to behave.

As consumers, we buy products that are covered in lots of packaging, much of it made from plastic that is not biodegradable (in other words, that will not decompose into harmless natural materials when thrown away).

Question (in two parts):

i) Is plastic packaging a problem? If so, why?

ii) Should plastic packaging be regulated? If so, how?


a. Please read the question above carefully, and make sure you understand it. Then also read the following instructions very carefully. If anything is unclear, please have a word.

b. Your answer must be typed. Specifications: 1.5 line spacing; no less than 11-point font; and margins each one inch (or 2.54cm) wide so that written comments can be added by the grader.

c. Page length: your answer should be at least one page long and at most one-and-a-third pages long, not including the outline (see point g. below).

e. Upon submission, your assignment will be reviewed using Ouriginal, which will check immediately for any plagiarism. Your answers must be your own work, obviously. Having someone else write all or part of this assignment for you constitutes an academic offence, as would ‘borrowing’ text written by others in an unattributed way.

f. References: no external research is necessary for this essay. The class material and our class discussion should be sufficient for a perfect answer.

That said, if you do use text written by others directly, it must be enclosed in “…” and cited accurately in a separate References section at the end of your paper. (References do not contribute to the page limit.) As an example, if you quoted from something like the Stern Review directly, you should footnote that source (as “See Stern (2007), page n.”) and then add the reference at the end:

Stern, Nicholas (2007), The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review, Cambridge University Press.

g. Note: along with your answer, you must submit a typed outline that sets out the clear structure of your answer. The outline should make clear to the reader the progression of the argument you will make in answering the question above, starting with an introduction and ending with a conclusion. It should consist of a numbered list of sentences, each expressing the main thought in each paragraph, in order. The outline will be graded. It will not contribute to the page limit described above; it need not occupy more than half a page.

h. Please write in grammatical sentences. Bad grammar will be penalized.

i. Please write in clear sentences. Unclear writing will be penalized.

Your answer will be graded on the basis of the organization of your ideas (including the presentation in your outline), the quality of your economic reasoning, the clarity of your writing, and the correctness of your grammar.

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