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Are Consumers Poorly Informed about Fuel Economy? Evidence from Two Experiments

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  • Hunt Allcott
  • Christopher Knittel

Abstract

It is often asserted that consumers are poorly informed about and inattentive to fuel economy, causing them to buy low-fuel economy vehicles despite their own best interest. This paper presents evidence on this assertion through two experiments providing fuel economy information to new vehicle shoppers. Results show zero statistical or economic effect on average fuel economy of vehicles purchased. In the context of a simple optimal policy model, the estimates suggest that current and proposed US fuel economy standards are significantly more stringent than needed to address the classes of imperfect information and inattention addressed by our interventions.

Suggested Citation

  • Hunt Allcott & Christopher Knittel, 2019. "Are Consumers Poorly Informed about Fuel Economy? Evidence from Two Experiments," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 1-37, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:11:y:2019:i:1:p:1-37
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.20170019
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Brent, Daniel A. & Ward, Michael B., 2018. "Energy efficiency and financial literacy," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 181-216.
    2. Ghislaine Lang & Bruno Lanz, 2018. "Energy efficiency, information, and the acceptability of rent increases: A multiple price list experiment with tenants," IRENE Working Papers 18-04, IRENE Institute of Economic Research.
    3. Reynaert, Mathias & Sallee, James M., 2016. "Who Benefits When Firms Game Corrective Policies?," TSE Working Papers 16-739, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Feb 2018.
    4. Gillingham, Kenneth & Houde, Sebastien & Van Benthem, Arthur, 2019. "Consumer Myopia in Vehicle Purchases: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 13736, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. repec:eee:eejocm:v:29:y:2018:i:c:p:1-16 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Houde, Sebastien & Aldy, Joseph E., 2017. "The Efficiency Consequences of Heterogeneous Behavioral Responses to Energy Fiscal Policies," Working Paper Series rwp17-047, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    7. Davide Cerruti & Claudio Daminato & Massimo Filippini, 2019. "The Impact of Policy Awareness: Evidence from Vehicle Choices Response to Fiscal Incentives," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 19/316, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    8. Bronnenberg, Bart & Dube, Jean-Pierre & Sanders, Robert, 2018. "Consumer Misinformation and the Brand Premium: A Private Label Blind Taste Test," CEPR Discussion Papers 13283, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Mense, Andreas, 2018. "What is the information value of energy efficiency certificates in buildings?," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 10/2018, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    10. Kenneth Gillingham & Sebastien Houde & Arthur A. van Benthem, 2019. "Consumer Myopia in Vehicle Purchases: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 19/321, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    11. repec:eee:ecolec:v:144:y:2018:i:c:p:112-123 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Bruno Lanz & Evert Reins, 2019. "Asymmetric information on the market for energy efficiency: Insights from the credence goods literature," IRENE Working Papers 19-03, IRENE Institute of Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • L62 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment; Related Parts and Equipment
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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