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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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    (Statistics Norway)

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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, 2000, and finds patterns in the resulting set of Engel curves. Private transportation using air flights and new automobiles have Engel elasticities 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.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Research Department of Statistics Norway in its series Discussion Papers with number 428.

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    Date of creation: Jun 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:428

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    Keywords: consumption patterns; double dividend; Engel curves; environmental levies; equity; externality; indirect taxation; Pigou correction; redistribution; transportation; travel;

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    1. Bovenberg, A Lans & de Mooij, Ruud A, 1997. "Environmental Levies and Distortionary Taxation: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 252-53, March.
    2. Richard Blundell & Martin Browning & Ian Crawford, 2002. "Nonparametric Engel Curves and Revealed Preference," CAM Working Papers 2002-04, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
    3. Erling Røed Larsen, 2002. "Estimating Latent Total Consumption in a Household," Discussion Papers 324, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Lawrence Goulder, 1995. "Environmental taxation and the double dividend: A reader's guide," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 157-183, August.
    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. Richard Schmalensee & Thomas M. Stoker, 1999. "Household Gasoline Demand in the United States," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(3), pages 645-662, May.
    9. John DiNardo & Justin L. Tobias, 2001. "Nonparametric Density and Regression Estimation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 11-28, Fall.
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