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Pass-Through as a Test for Market Power: An Application to Solar Subsidies

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  • Jacquelyn Pless
  • Arthur A. van Benthem

Abstract

We formalize pass-through over-shifting as a simple yet underutilized test for market power. We apply this test in the market for solar energy. Specifically, we estimate the pass-through of solar subsidies to solar system prices using rich micro-level transaction and subsidy data from California. Buyers of solar systems capture nearly the full subsidy, while there is more-than-complete pass-through to lessees. We conclude that solar markets are imperfectly competitive by ruling out alternative explanations for over-shifting and reinforce this conclusion with a test of solar demand curvature. This procedure can serve to detect market power beyond the solar market.

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  • Jacquelyn Pless & Arthur A. van Benthem, 2019. "Pass-Through as a Test for Market Power: An Application to Solar Subsidies," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 367-401, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:11:y:2019:i:4:p:367-401
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.20170611
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    Cited by:

    1. Li, Yumin, 2018. "Incentive pass-through in the California Solar Initiative – An analysis based on third-party contracts," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 534-541.
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    3. Guo, Bowei & Castagneto Gissey, Giorgio, 2021. "Cost pass-through in the British wholesale electricity market," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C).
    4. Nicholas Ryan, 2020. "Holding Up Green Energy," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2294, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    5. Sébastien Houde & Wenjun Wang, 2022. "The Incidence of the U.S.-China Solar Trade War," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 22/372, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    6. Daniele Curzi & Maria Garrone & Alessandro Olper, 2021. "Import Competition and Firm Markups in the Food Industry," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 103(4), pages 1433-1453, August.
    7. Asatryan, Zareh & Gomtsyan, David, 2020. "The incidence of VAT evasion," ZEW Discussion Papers 20-027, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    8. Eloïse Corazza & Francesco Filippucci, 2022. "Who Profits from Training Subsidies? Evidence from a French Individual Learning Account," PSE Working Papers halshs-03519664, HAL.
    9. Reeves, D.C. & Rai, V., 2018. "Strike while the rebate is hot: Savvy consumers and strategic technology adoption timing," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 325-335.
    10. Ying Fan & Ge Zhang, 2022. "The welfare effect of a consumer subsidy with price ceilings: the case of Chinese cell phones," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 53(2), pages 429-449, June.
    11. Bowei Guo & Giorgio Castagneto Gissey, 2019. "Cost Pass-through in the British Wholesale Electricity Market: Implications of Brexit and the ETS reform," Working Papers EPRG1937, Energy Policy Research Group, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
    12. Ander Iraizoz & José M Labeaga, 2022. "Incidence and Avoidance Effects of Spatial Fuel Tax Differentials: Evidence using Regional Tax Variation in Spain," Working Papers halshs-03789430, HAL.
    13. Swanson, Andrew C., 2022. "Corn, Carbon, and Competition: The Low Carbon Fuel Standard's Effects on Imperfectly Competitive Corn Markets," 2022 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Anaheim, California 322442, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    14. Naylor, Jamie & Deaton, B. James & Ker, Alan, 2020. "Assessing the effect of food retail subsidies on the price of food in remote Indigenous communities in Canada," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 93(C).
    15. Tsvetan Tsvetanov, 2022. "Tax Holidays and the Heterogeneous Pass-Through of Gasoline Taxes," WORKING PAPERS SERIES IN THEORETICAL AND APPLIED ECONOMICS 202219, University of Kansas, Department of Economics.
    16. Orley Ashenfelter & Stepan Jurajda Jurajda, 2021. "Wages, Minimum Wages, and Price Pass-Through: The Case of McDonald's Restaurants," Working Papers 646, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    17. Ander Iraizoz & José M Labeaga, 2022. "Incidence and Avoidance Effects of Spatial Fuel Tax Differentials: Evidence using Regional Tax Variation in Spain," PSE Working Papers halshs-03789430, HAL.
    18. Evert Reins, 2021. "Seductive subsidies? An analysis of second-degree moral hazard in the context of photovoltaic solar systems," IRENE Working Papers 21-03, IRENE Institute of Economic Research.
    19. Eloïse Corazza & Francesco Filippucci, 2022. "Who Profits from Training Subsidies? Evidence from a French Individual Learning Account," Working Papers halshs-03519664, HAL.
    20. Sarah Tougher & Kara Hanson & Catherine A. Goodman, 2021. "Does subsidizing the private for‐profit sector benefit the poor? Evidence from national antimalarial subsidies in Nigeria and Uganda," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(10), pages 2510-2530, September.
    21. Melo, Carolina & Moita, Rodrigo & Sunao, Stefanie, 2021. "Passing through the supply chain: Implications for market power," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    22. Anderson, Anders & Hong, Harrison, 2022. "Welfare Implications of Electric-Bike Subsidies: Evidence from Sweden," Misum Working Paper Series 2022-8, Stockholm School of Economics, Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets (Misum).
    23. Dong, Changgui & Zhou, Runmin & Li, Jiaying, 2021. "Rushing for subsidies: The impact of feed-in tariffs on solar photovoltaic capacity development in China," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 281(C).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H76 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Other Expenditure Categories
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L63 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Microelectronics; Computers; Communications Equipment
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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