Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

A presumptive pigovian tax on gasoline : analysis of an air pollution control program for Mexico City


Author Info

  • Eskeland, Gunnar S.


Without continuous monitoring of emissions, a pollution control agency needs to evaluate abatement options itself. Apart from making activities cleaner, it should also stimulate reductions in the level of activity in polluting sectors. The author develops an analytical framework to show that a tax on a variable input, such as gasoline, is useful for this purpose. It encourages individuals and firms to sacrifice trips when they would prefer those sacrifices to those of higher spending on abatement. The instrument exploits privately held information about which trips can be saved at a low social cost. Other weaknesses of a program based on indirect instruments - as opposed to one induced by a theoretically conceived pollution tax - remain. One of these is that the agency may have poorer information than individuals and firms about the status of vehicles and the effectiveness of individual abatement options. Such an information gap - which could be bridged by a true pollution tax - is abstracted from the analysis. The author shows that the tax rate that belongs in a cost-effective pollution control program is independent of the price elasticity of demand for the polluting good. But the higher the demand elasticity, the higher are the costs of not including a presumptive tax on the polluting good in the tool kit of the pollution control agency. The author estimates the cost savings available when an optimal gasoline tax is included in an otherwise well-composed program, appropriately accounting for the welfare costs ofdemand consumption. He shows that the targeted emission reductions can be obtained at 11 percent lower costs, saving $64 million annually, when the demand conservation induced by the gasoline tax allows some other, more expensive abatement options to remain unused. He proposes an ad valorem gasoline tax of about 25 percent, when no separate value is associated with the collection of revenue or with avoidance of noise, congestion, accidents, and road damage. In Mexico City alone, the tax would collect $350 million a year. After recent price increases, implicit tax rates in Mexico City are higher than suggested by the author's analysis. Higher rates may or may not be justified due to the benefits of demand conservation not accounted for in the analysis.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1076.

as in new window
Date of creation: 31 Jan 1993
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1076

Contact details of provider:
Postal: 1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433
Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page:
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: Energy and Environment; Pollution Management&Control; Environmental Economics&Policies; Economic Theory&Research; Transport and Environment;


References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Dale W. Jorgenson & Peter J. Wilcoxen, 1990. "Environmental Regulation and U.S. Economic Growth," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(2), pages 314-340, Summer.
  2. J. A. Mirrlees, 1976. "Optimal Tax Theory: A Synthesis," Working papers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics 176, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Balcer, Yves, 1980. "Taxation of externalities: Direct versus Indirect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 121-129, February.
  4. Farrell, Joseph, 1987. "Information and the Coase Theorem," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley qt1sc2r800, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  5. Robert S. Pindyck, 1979. "The Structure of World Energy Demand," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661772, December.
  6. M. L. Weitzman, 1973. "Prices vs. Quantities," Working papers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics 106, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  7. Berndt, Ernst R. & Botero, German, 1985. "Energy demand in the transportation sector of Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 219-238, April.
  8. Cropper, Maureen L & Oates, Wallace E, 1992. "Environmental Economics: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 675-740, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Kate, Adriaan Ten, 1993. "Industrial development and the environment in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1125, The World Bank.


This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


Access and download statistics


When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1076. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.