This paper examines environmental regulation in India with a view to identify characteristics of policy instruments that have made success more likely, and laying out a roadmap for regulatory reform.

More than 660 million people in India breathe air that exceeds National Air Quality Standards and research indicate that bringing air quality in compliance would increase life expectancy by an average of 3.2 years. Despite India’s severe environmental challenges, implementing policies that effectively reduce pollution has proven hard.

The authors in this paper review empirical evidence from within and outside India, to distill three elements of reform: (i) ensuring reliable monitoring based on high-quality data, (ii) designing incentive-compatible and economically efficient regulation, and (iii) piloting and evaluating the impact of new ideas.

The paper reviews a variety of empirical evidence from within and outside India, including Delhi’s recent program to ration driving, third-party industry audits in Gujarat and continuous monitoring of industrial emissions. The authors also argue that these three elements can be effectively combined to reduce pollution and that India may require market-based approaches for long-term solutions.

To access the final version, please write to

View Working Paper