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Do Consumers Respond to Marginal or Average Price? Evidence from Nonlinear Electricity Pricing

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  • Koichiro Ito

Abstract

Nonlinear pricing and taxation complicate economic decisions by creating multiple marginal prices for the same good. This paper provides a framework to uncover consumers' perceived price of nonlinear price schedules. I exploit price variation at spatial discontinuities in electricity service areas, where households in the same city experience substantially different nonlinear pricing. Using household-level panel data from administrative records, I find strong evidence that consumers respond to average price rather than marginal or expected marginal price. This suboptimizing behavior makes nonlinear pricing unsuccessful in achieving its policy goal of energy conservation and critically changes the welfare implications of nonlinear pricing.

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  • Koichiro Ito, 2014. "Do Consumers Respond to Marginal or Average Price? Evidence from Nonlinear Electricity Pricing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(2), pages 537-563, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:104:y:2014:i:2:p:537-63
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.2.537
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • L98 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Government Policy
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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