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Distributional effects of environmental taxes on transportation: evidence from Engel curves in the United States

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  • Erling Røed Larsen

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    Abstract

    Indirect taxes on transportation activities that pollute can correct externalities and close the gaps between private and social costs. However, policy makers often find such Pigou taxes difficult to implement because of political resistance due to possibly adverse affects on equity. For this reason it is important to assess the distributional aspects of environmental levies. This article estimates properties of the demand for transportation in parametric and non-parametric analyses of Consumer Expenditure Surveys for the United States and finds patterns in the resulting set of Engel curves. Private transportation using air flights and new cars has Engel elasticity above unity while public transportation via mass transit has Engel elasticity below unity. The findings can be interpreted in an important way since they show that a differentiated scheme of environmental taxes on transportation may function progressively. A Pigou scheme with larger taxes on modes of transportation that pollute more appears to coincide with larger levies on luxury modes preferred by richer households. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10603-006-9009-y
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Consumer Policy.

    Volume (Year): 29 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 3 (September)
    Pages: 301-318

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:jcopol:v:29:y:2006:i:3:p:301-318

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    Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100283

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    Keywords: Consumption patterns; Engel curve; Indirect taxation; Pigou correction; Transportation;

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    1. de Bovenberg, A Lans & Mooij, Ruud A, 1994. "Environmental Levies and Distortionary Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 1085-89, September.
    2. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Krishna Pendakur, 1998. "Semiparametric estimation and consumer demand," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(5), pages 435-461.
    3. Aasness, Jorgen & Biorn, Erik & Skjerpen, Terje, 1993. "Engel Functions, Panel Data, and Latent Variables," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(6), pages 1395-1422, November.
    4. Richard Blundell & Martin Browning & Ian Crawford, 1998. "Nonparametric Engel Curves and Revealed Preference," Discussion Papers 99-07, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    5. Brita Bye & Snorre Kverndokk & Knut Rosendahl, 2002. "Mitigation costs, distributional effects, and ancillary benefits of carbon policies in the Nordic countries, the U.K., and Ireland," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 339-366, December.
    6. DiNardo, John & Tobias, Justin, 2001. "Nonparametric Density and Regression Estimation," Staff General Research Papers 12020, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    7. Mayeres, Inge & Proost, Stef, 1997. " Optimal Tax and Public Investment Rules for Congestion Type of Externalities," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(2), pages 261-79, June.
    8. Adonis Yatchew, 1998. "Nonparametric Regression Techniques in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 669-721, June.
    9. Richard Schmalensee & Thomas M. Stoker, 1999. "Household Gasoline Demand in the United States," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(3), pages 645-662, May.
    10. S. Proost & D. Regemorter, 1995. "The double dividend and the role of inequality aversion and macroeconomic regimes," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 207-219, August.
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    Cited by:
    1. Bureau, Benjamin & Glachant, Matthieu, 2011. "Distributional effects of public transport policies in the Paris Region," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 745-754, September.
    2. Bureau, Benjamin, 2011. "Distributional effects of a carbon tax on car fuels in France," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 121-130, January.

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