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Is Pay-as-You-Drive Insurance a Better Way to Reduce Gasoline than Gasoline Taxes?

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  • Ian W. H. Parry

Abstract

Gasoline taxes are widely perceived as the most efficient instrument for reducing gasoline consumption because they exploit all behavioral responses for reducing fuel use, including reduced driving and improved fuel economy. At present, however, higher fuel taxes are viewed as a political nonstarter. Pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) auto insurance, which involves replacing existing lump-sum premiums with premiums that vary in proportion to miles driven, should be more practical, since they do not raise driving costs for the average motorist. We show that when impacts on a broad range of motor vehicle externalities are considered, PAYD also induces significantly higher welfare gains than comparable gasoline tax increases, for fuel reductions below 9%. The reason is that under PAYD, all of the reduction in fuel use, rather than just a fraction, comes from reduced driving; this produces a substantial additional efficiency gain because mileage-related external costs (especially congestion and accidents) are relatively large in magnitude.
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Suggested Citation

  • Ian W. H. Parry, 2005. "Is Pay-as-You-Drive Insurance a Better Way to Reduce Gasoline than Gasoline Taxes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 288-293, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:95:y:2005:i:2:p:288-293
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282805774670482
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Greene, David L., 1991. "A note on OPEC market power and oil prices," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 123-129, April.
    2. Aaron S. Edlin, 1999. "Per-Mile Premiums for Auto Insurance," NBER Working Papers 6934, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    4. Parry, Ian W. H., 2004. "Comparing alternative policies to reduce traffic accidents," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 346-368, September.
    5. Ian W. H. Parry & Kenneth A. Small, 2005. "Does Britain or the United States Have the Right Gasoline Tax?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1276-1289, September.
    6. Parry, Ian & Fischer, Carolyn & Harrington, Winston, 2004. "Should Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards Be Tightened?," Discussion Papers dp-04-53, Resources For the Future.
    7. Shirley, Chad & Winston, Clifford, 2004. "Firm inventory behavior and the returns from highway infrastructure investments," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 398-415, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Imke Reimers & Benjamin R. Shiller, 2018. "Welfare Implications of Proprietary Data Collection: An Application to Telematics in Auto Insurance," Working Papers 119R, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School, revised May 2018.
    2. Santos, Georgina & Behrendt, Hannah & Maconi, Laura & Shirvani, Tara & Teytelboym, Alexander, 2010. "Part I: Externalities and economic policies in road transport," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 2-45.
    3. Michael L. Anderson & Maximilian Auffhammer, 2014. "Pounds That Kill: The External Costs of Vehicle Weight," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(2), pages 535-571.
    4. Hultkrantz, Lars & Nilsson, Jan-Eric & Arvidsson, Sara, 2012. "Voluntary internalization of speeding externalities with vehicle insurance," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 46(6), pages 926-937.
    5. André De Palma & Robin Lindsey, 2009. "Traffic Congestion Pricing Methods and Technologies," Working Papers hal-00414526, HAL.
    6. Kromer, Matthew A. & Bandivadekar, Anup & Evans, Christopher, 2010. "Long-term greenhouse gas emission and petroleum reduction goals: Evolutionary pathways for the light-duty vehicle sector," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 387-397.
    7. Greenberg, Allen, 2010. "Applying Behavioral Economics Concepts in Designing Usage-Based Car Insurance Products," 51st Annual Transportation Research Forum, Arlington, Virginia, March 11-13, 2010 207274, Transportation Research Forum.
    8. David Coady & Ian W.H. Parry & Louis Sears & Baoping Shang, 2015. "How Large Are Global Energy Subsidies?," IMF Working Papers 15/105, International Monetary Fund.
    9. repec:eee:pubeco:v:152:y:2017:i:c:p:34-46 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Tscharaktschiew, Stefan, 2016. "The private (unnoticed) welfare cost of highway speeding behavior from time saving misperceptions," Economics of Transportation, Elsevier, vol. 7, pages 24-37.
    11. Welch, Timothy F. & Mishra, Sabyasachee, 2014. "A framework for determining road pricing revenue use and its welfare effects," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 61-70.
    12. Robin Lindsey, 2010. "Reforming Road User Charges: A Research Challenge For Regional Science," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 471-492.
    13. Imke Reimers & Benjamin R. Shiller, 2018. "Proprietary Data, Competition, and Consumer Effort: An Application to Telematics in Auto Insurance," Working Papers 119, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • R48 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government Pricing and Policy

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