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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Summary of the Nonmonetary Exernalities of Motor-Vehicle Use: Report #9 in the series: The Annualized Social Cost of Motor-Vehicle Use in the United States, Based on 1990-1991 Data


In this ninth paper in a series on the social cost of motor-vehicle use in the U.S., the author reports that the literature on externalities is enormous, and there is much debate on the terminology and particular aspects of externalities. He examines various definitions of externalities dating back to 1958. For the sake of this paper, he adopts the definition that externalities are unintended effects. When estimating the external cost of motor-vehicle use, the author examines the following: pain, suffering, death and lost non-market productivity due to motor-vehicle accidents; travel delay imposed by other drivers; the health effects of air pollution from motor vehicles; the cost of reduced visibility due to pollution; the climate change damage; the cost of noise from motor vehicles; the environmental impacts of leaking motor-fuel storage tanks; the impact of large oil spills; related water pollution; habitat destruction; the socially divisive effects of roads as barriers; and the esthetics of roads and the motor-vehicle service infrastructure.

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