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Tax and Subsidy Combinations for the Control of Car Pollution

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  • Don Fullerton
  • Sarah West

Abstract

Despite technological advances, an individual car's emissions still cannot be measured reliably enough to impose a Pigovian tax. This paper explores alternative market incentives that could be used instead. We solve for second-best combinations of uniform taxes on gasoline, engine size, and vehicle age. For 1,261 individuals and cars in the 1994 Consumer Expenditure Survey, we record the car's model, year, and number of cylinders. We then seek a corresponding car in data from the California Air Resources Board that shows the car's engine size, fuel efficiency, and emissions per mile. We calculate the welfare improvement from a zero-tax scenario to the ideal Pigovian tax, and we find that 71 percent of that gain can be achieved by the second-best combination of taxes on gas, size, and vintage. A gas tax alone attains 62 percent of that gain. These results are robust to variation in the elasticity of substitution among goods.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7774.

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Date of creation: Jul 2000
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7774

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  1. Jorgenson, Dale W, 1996. "Empirical Studies of Depreciation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(1), pages 24-42, January.
  2. Dahl, Carol & Sterner, Thomas, 1991. "Analysing gasoline demand elasticities: a survey," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 203-210, July.
  3. Eskeland, Gunnar S, 1994. "A Presumptive Pigovian Tax: Complementing Regulation to Mimic an Emissions Fee," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(3), pages 373-94, September.
  4. Innes, Robert, 1996. "Regulating Automobile Pollution under Certainty, Competition, and Imperfect Information," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 219-239, September.
  5. Molly Espey, 1996. "Explaining the Variation in Elasticity Estimates of Gasoline Demand in the United States: A Meta-Analysis," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 49-60.
  6. Small, Kenneth A. & Kazimi, Camilla, 1995. "On the Costs of Air Pollution from Motor Vehicles," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt0sx81025, University of California Transportation Center.
  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. Anna Alberini & Winston Harrington & Virginia McConnell, 1995. "Determinants of Participation in Accelerated Vehicle-Retirement Programs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(1), pages 93-112, Spring.
  9. Robert Kohn, 1996. "An additive tax and subsidy for controlling automobile pollution," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(7), pages 459-462.
  10. Don Fullerton & Sarah West, 1999. "Can Taxes on Cars and on Gasoline Mimic an Unavailable Tax on Emissions?," NBER Working Papers 7059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Hoel, Michael, 1998. " Emission Taxes versus Other Environmental Policies," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(1), pages 79-104, March.
  12. Ohta, Makoto & Griliches, Zvi, 1986. "Automobile Prices and Quality: Did the Gasoline Price Increases Change Consumer Tastes in the U.S.?," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 4(2), pages 187-98, April.
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