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Cash for Corollas: When Stimulus Reduces Spending

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  • Mark Hoekstra
  • Steven L. Puller
  • Jeremy West

Abstract

The 2009 Cash for Clunkers program aimed to stimulate consumer spending in the new automobile industry, which experienced disproportionate reductions in demand and employment during the Great Recession. Exploiting program eligibility criteria in a regression discontinuity design, we show more than half of the subsidies went to households who would have purchased during the two-month program anyway; the rest accelerated sales by no more than eight months. Moreover, the program's fuel efficiency restrictions shifted purchases toward vehicles that cost on average $7,600 less. Thus, we estimate on net the $3 billion program reduced total new vehicle spending by $5 billion.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Hoekstra & Steven L. Puller & Jeremy West, 2017. "Cash for Corollas: When Stimulus Reduces Spending," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 1-35, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:9:y:2017:i:3:p:1-35
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.20150172
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    Cited by:

    1. Nano Barahona & Francisco A Gallego & Juan-Pablo Montero, 2020. "Vintage-Specific Driving Restrictions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(4), pages 1646-1682.
    2. Nishitateno, Shuhei & Burke, Paul J., 2021. "Willingness to pay for clean air: Evidence from diesel vehicle registration restrictions in Japan," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(C).
    3. Tim Noparumpa & Kanis Saengchote, 2017. "The Impact of Tax Rebate on Used Car Market: Evidence from Thailand," International Review of Finance, International Review of Finance Ltd., vol. 17(1), pages 147-154, March.
    4. Lüth, Hendrik, 2021. "Reassessing Car Scrappage Schemes in Selected OECD Countries: A Synthetic Control Method Application," Working Paper 190/2021, Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg.
    5. Zaman, Hosain & Zaccour, Georges, 2020. "Vehicle scrappage incentives to accelerate the replacement decision of heterogeneous consumers," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 91(C).
    6. Rittenhouse, Katherine & Zaragoza-Watkins, Matthew, 2018. "Anticipation and environmental regulation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 255-277.
    7. Feld, Lars P. & Schmidt, Christoph M. & Schnabel, Isabel & Truger, Achim & Wieland, Volker, 2019. "Den Strukturwandel meistern. Jahresgutachten 2019/20," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 201920.
    8. Nicholas J. Sanders & Ryan Sandler, 2020. "Technology and the Effectiveness of Regulatory Programs over Time: Vehicle Emissions and Smog Checks with a Changing Fleet," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(3), pages 587-618.
    9. Rüth, Sebastian K. & Simon, Camilla, 2020. "How Do Income and the Debt Position of Households Propagate Public into Private Spending?," Working Papers 0676, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    10. Mark Hoekstra & Steven L. Puller & Jeremy West, 2017. "Cash for Corollas: When Stimulus Reduces Spending," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 1-35, July.
    11. Sébastien Houde & Joseph E. Aldy, 2014. "Belt and Suspenders and More: The Incremental Impact of Energy Efficiency Subsidies in the Presence of Existing Policy Instruments," NBER Working Papers 20541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Marin, Giovanni & Zoboli, Roberto, 2020. "Effectiveness of car scrappage schemes: Counterfactual-based evidence on the Italian experience," Economics of Transportation, Elsevier, vol. 21(C).
    13. Yu-Chin Hsu & Chung-Ming Kuan & Giorgio Teng-Yu Lo, 2017. "Quantile Treatment Effects in Regression Discontinuity Designs with Covariates," IEAS Working Paper : academic research 17-A009, Institute of Economics, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
    14. Jeremy West & Mark Hoekstra & Jonathan Meer & Steven L. Puller, 2015. "Vehicle Miles (Not) Traveled: Why Fuel Economy Requirements Don't Increase Household Driving," NBER Working Papers 21194, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Tanaka, Shinsuke, 2020. "When tax incentives drive illicit behavior: The manipulation of fuel economy in the automobile industry," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 104(C).
    16. Gavazza, Alessandro & Lanteri, Andrea, 2018. "Credit Shocks and Equilibrium Dynamics in Consumer Durable Goods Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 13229, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Daniel Green & Brian T. Melzer & Jonathan A. Parker & Arcenis Rojas, 2020. "Accelerator or Brake? Cash for Clunkers, Household Liquidity, and Aggregate Demand," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 178-211, November.
    18. Hernán Barahona & Francisco Gallego & Jeanne Juan-Pablo Montero, 2016. "Adopting a Cleaner Technology: The Effect of Driving Restrictions on Fleet Turnover," Working Papers ClioLab 24, EH Clio Lab. Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
    19. Klößner, Stefan & Pfeifer, Gregor, 2015. "Synthesizing Cash for Clunkers: Stabilizing the Car Market, Hurting the Environment," VfS Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113207, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    20. West, Jeremy & Hoekstra, Mark & Meer, Jonathan & Puller, Steven L., 2017. "Vehicle miles (not) traveled: Fuel economy requirements, vehicle characteristics, and household driving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 65-81.
    21. Athiphat Muthitacharoen & Krislert Samphantharak & Sommarat Chantarat, 2019. "Fiscal stimulus and debt burden: evidence from Thailand’s first-car-buyer tax rebate program," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 26(6), pages 1383-1415, December.
    22. Sheldon, Tamara L. & Dua, Rubal, 2019. "Measuring the cost-effectiveness of electric vehicle subsidies," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • L62 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment; Related Parts and Equipment

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    1. Cash for Corollas: When Stimulus Reduces Spending (American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2017) in ReplicationWiki

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