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Re-Evaluating the Role of Energy Efficiency Standards: A Time-Consistent Behavioral Economics Approach

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  • Tsvetan Tsvetanov

    ()
    (University of Connecticut)

  • Kathleen Segerson

    ()
    (University of Connecticut)

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    Abstract

    The economic models that prescribe Pigovian taxation as the first-best means of reducing energy-related externalities and argue that taxes are superior to energy efficiency standards are typically based on the neoclassical model of rational consumer choice. Yet, observed consumer behavior with regards to energy use and the purchase of energy-using durable goods is generally thought to be far from efficient, giving rise to the concept of the “energy-efficiency gap.” In this paper, we present a welfare analysis of Pigovian taxes and energy efficiency standards that is based on an alternative, time-consistent behavioral model. We adapt the model of temptation and self-control of Gul and Pesendorfer (2001, 2004) to the context of the purchase of energyusing durable goods. Our results suggest that (i) temptation or self-control might be a contributing factor in explaining the energy-efficiency gap, (ii) standards might be used as a commitment device to address inefficiencies in consumer choice that stem from temptation, and (iii) in the presence of temptation, a policy that combines standards with a Pigovian tax can yield higher social welfare than a Pigovian tax alone.

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    File URL: http://www.zwickcenter.uconn.edu/documents/wp7.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Charles J. Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy in its series Working Papers with number 07.

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    Length: 44 pages
    Date of creation: Dec 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:zwi:wpaper:07

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    Related research

    Keywords: behavioral economics; temptation; self-control; time-consistent preferences; energyefficiency gap; energy efficiency standards; Pigovian taxes;

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    References

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    1. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2007. "Estimating Discount Functions with Consumption Choices over the Lifecycle," NBER Working Papers 13314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Klaus Wertenbroch, 1998. "Consumption Self-Control by Rationing Purchase Quantities of Virtue and Vice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(4), pages 317-337.
    3. Kevin X. D. Huang & Zheng Liu & Qi Zhu, 2006. "Temptation and self-control: some evidence and applications," Staff Report 367, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    4. Kenneth Gillingham & Richard G. Newell & Karen Palmer, 2009. "Energy Efficiency Economics and Policy," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 597-620, 09.
    5. Kan, Kamhon, 2007. "Cigarette smoking and self-control," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 61-81, January.
    6. Garth Heutel, 2011. "Optimal Policy Instruments for Externality-Producing Durable Goods Under Time Inconsistency," NBER Working Papers 17083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Köszegi, 2001. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory And Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1261-1303, November.
    8. Parry, Ian W.H. & Evans, David & Oates, Wallace E., 2014. "Are energy efficiency standards justified?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 104-125.
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    13. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
    14. Walter McManus, 2007. "The Link Between Gasoline Prices and Vehicle Sales," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 42(1), pages 53-60, January.
    15. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    16. Jerry A. Hausman, 1979. "Individual Discount Rates and the Purchase and Utilization of Energy-Using Durables," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 33-54, Spring.
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    Cited by:
    1. Brennan, Timothy J. & Palmer, Karen L., 2013. "Energy efficiency resource standards: Economics and policy," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 58-68.

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