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Understanding Public Support for Externality-Correcting Taxes and Subsidies: A Lab Experiment

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Author Info

  • David Heres
  • Steffen Kallbekken
  • Ibon Galarraga

Abstract

The potential of taxation to correcting environmental externalities has been long recognized among economists. Yet, this welfare-enhancing policy commonly faces strong opposition by citizens. Conversely, externality-correcting subsidies frequently enjoy high levels of public acceptance. We conduct a lab experiment to explore public support for Pigouvian taxes and subsidies. In an experimental market with a negative externality, participants vote on the introduction of Pigouvian taxes and subsidies under full or partial information concerning how the tax revenues will be spent and the subsidy paid for. Theoretically the two instruments should produce identical outcomes. We find substantially greater support for subsidies than taxes. This can partially be explained by the expectation that the subsidy will increase payoffs more than a tax, but not because it could be more effective in changing behavior. Furthermore, we find that under partial information, the preference for subsidies is even stronger.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by BC3 in its series Working Papers with number 2013-04.

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Date of creation: Jan 2013
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Publication status: Published
Handle: RePEc:bcc:wpaper:2013-04

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Web page: http://www.bc3research.org/

Related research

Keywords: Pigouvian taxes; subsidies; lab experiment; public policy; revenues; effectiveness;

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References

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Cited by:
  1. Galarraga, Ibon & Abadie, Luis M. & Ansuategi, Alberto, 2013. "Efficiency, effectiveness and implementation feasibility of energy efficiency rebates: The “Renove” plan in Spain," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(S1), pages S98-S107.

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