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Estimating the Impact of Low-Income Universal Service Programs

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  • Daniel A. Ackerberg

    ()
    (University of Michigan)

  • David R. DeRemer

    (ECARES)

  • Michael H. Riordan

    ()
    (Columbia University)

  • Gregory L. Rosston

    ()
    (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research)

  • Bradley S. Wimmer

    ()
    (University of Nevada, Las Vegas)

Abstract

This policy study uses U.S. Census microdata to evaluate how subsidies for universal telephone service vary in their impact across low-income racial groups, gender, age, and home ownership. Our demand specification includes both the subsidized monthly price (Lifeline program) and the subsidized initial connection price (Linkup program) for local telephone service. Our quasi-maximum likelihood estimation controls for location differences and instruments for price endogeneity. The microdata allow us to estimate the effects of demographics on both elasticities of telephone penetration and the level of telephone penetration. Based on our preferred estimates, the subsidy programs increased aggregate penetration by 6.1% for low-income households. Our results suggest that Linkup is more cost-effective than Lifeline and that auto-enroll policies are important, which calls into question a recent FCC (2012) decision to reduce Linkup subsidies in favor of Lifeline. Our study can inform the evaluation of similar universal service policies for Internet access.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 12-016.

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Date of creation: Apr 2013
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Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:12-016

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  1. Avery, Robert B & Hansen, Lars Peter & Hotz, V Joseph, 1983. "Multiperiod Probit Models and Orthogonality Condition Estimation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 24(1), pages 21-35, February.
  2. Lars-Hendrik Röller & Leonard Waverman, 1996. "Telecommunications Infrastructure and Economic Development: A Simultaneous Approach," CIG Working Papers FS IV 96-16, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG).
  3. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-90, July.
  4. Gregory L. Rosston & Scott J. Savage & Bradley S. Wimmer, 2008. "The Effect of Private Interests on Regulated Retail and Wholesale Prices," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(3), pages 479-501, 08.
  5. Garbacz, Christopher & Thompson, Herbert G, Jr, 2003. "Estimating Telephone Demand with State Decennial Census Data from 1970-1990: Update with 2000 Data," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 373-78, November.
  6. Hausman, Jerry & Tardiff, Timothy & Belinfante, Alexander, 1993. "The Effects of the Breakup of AT&T on Telephone Penetration in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 178-84, May.
  7. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
  8. Garbacz, Christopher & Thompson, Herbert G, 2002. "Estimating Telephone Demand with State Decennial Census Data from 1970-1990," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 317-29, May.
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