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Consumer Valuation of Fuel Costs and Tax Policy: Evidence from the European Car Market


  • Laura Grigolon
  • Mathias Reynaert
  • Frank Verboven


To what extent do car buyers undervalue future fuel costs, and what does this imply for tax policy? To address both questions, we show it is crucial to account for consumer mileage heterogeneity. We use product-level data for a panel of European countries and exploit fuel cost variation by engine. Despite a modest undervaluation of fuel costs, fuel taxes are more effective in reducing fuel usage than product taxes. They also perform better in terms of welfare, even when usage demand is held fixed. The reason is that fuel taxes better target high mileage consumers to purchase fuel efficient cars.

Suggested Citation

  • Laura Grigolon & Mathias Reynaert & Frank Verboven, 2018. "Consumer Valuation of Fuel Costs and Tax Policy: Evidence from the European Car Market," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 193-225, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:10:y:2018:i:3:p:193-225
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.20160078

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business 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
    • L71 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Hydrocarbon Fuels


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