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Why is the US so Energy Intensive? Evidence from US Multinationals in the UK

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  • Ralf Martin

Abstract

At present the USA is - in per capita terms - the top greenhouse gas polluter among the world's major economies. This is mirrored by the high energy intensity of all sectors of the US economy including manufacturing industries. A potential explanation for the higher energy intensity is lower US energy price levels. However, common price elasticity estimates are not high enough to explain the observed differences between countries. Alternative explanations include firstly geographic or other locational differences and secondly firm specific technology differences between US firms and others. This study explores this latter possibility by comparing establishments of US firms in Britain with other comparable firms thereby ruling out locational differences. The findings are that on average US firms are not more energy intensive when operating in Britain. However, US firms that have only recently entered the UK market are found to be significantly more energy intensive at an order of magnitude corresponding to the between country US-UK gap. This difference vanishes with an increased duration of stay in the UK; however, with a considerable time lag. This suggests firstly, that barriers to knowledge diffusion are an important concern and secondly, that the long term response to a sustained price increase might be stronger than common price elasticity estimates suggest. The study also provides, for the first time, estimates of energy price elasticities for the UK on the basis of representative plant level panel data for the manufacturing sector.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0965.

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Date of creation: Jan 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0965

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Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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Keywords: Energy efficiency; multinationals; energy demand elasticity; climate change;

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  1. Nicholas Bloom & Christos Genakos & Ralf Martin & Raffaella Sadun, 2008. "Modern Management: Good for the Environment of Just Hot Air?," Discussion Papers 08-009, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  2. Daron Acemoglu, 2001. "Directed Technical Change," NBER Working Papers 8287, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Bloom, Nicholas & Sadun, Raffaella & Van Reenen, John, 2007. "Americans Do I.T. Better: US Multinationals and the Productivity Miracle," CEPR Discussion Papers 6291, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Jaffe Adam B. & Stavins Robert N., 1995. "Dynamic Incentives of Environmental Regulations: The Effects of Alternative Policy Instruments on Technology Diffusion," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages S43-S63, November.
  5. Griffin, James M & Gregory, Paul R, 1976. "An Intercountry Translog Model of Energy Substitution Responses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(5), pages 845-57, December.
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  7. Klette, Tor Jakob, 1999. "Market Power, Scale Economies and Productivity: Estimates from a Panel of Establishment Data," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 451-76, December.
  8. Chiara Criscuolo & Ralf Martin, 2009. "Multinationals and U.S. Productivity Leadership: Evidence from Great Britain," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 263-281, May.
  9. Roy, Joyashree & Sanstad, Alan H. & Sathaye, Jayant A. & Khaddaria, Raman, 2006. "Substitution and price elasticity estimates using inter-country pooled data in a translog cost model," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(5-6), pages 706-719, November.
  10. Bartelsman, Eric J & Haskel, Jonathan & Martin, Ralf, 2008. "Distance to Which Frontier? Evidence on Productivity Convergence from International Firm-level Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 7032, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Pindyck, Robert S, 1979. "Interfuel Substitution and the Industrial Demand for Energy: An International Comparison," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(2), pages 169-79, May.
  12. Mary O’Mahony & Willem de Boer, 2002. "Britain’s Relative Productivity Performance: Has Anything Changed?," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 179(1), pages 38-43, January.
  13. Ralf Martin, 2005. "Productivity Dispersion, Competition and Productivity Measurement," CEP Discussion Papers dp0692, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  14. Jaffe, Adam B. & Stavins, Robert N., 1994. "The energy paradox and the diffusion of conservation technology," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 91-122, May.
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