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Hidden Baggage: Behavioral Responses to Changes in Airline Ticket Tax Disclosure

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  • Sebastien Bradley
  • Naomi E. Feldman

Abstract

We examine the impact of a January 2012 enforcement action by the US Department of Transportation that required US air carriers and online travel agents to modify their web interfaces to incorporate all ticket taxes in up-front, advertised fares. We show that the more prominent display of tax-inclusive prices is associated with significant reductions in consumer tax incidence, demand, and ticket revenues along more heavily taxed itineraries. In particular, the fraction of unit taxes that airlines passed onto consumers fell by roughly 75 cents for every dollar of tax. These results present evidence of consumer inattention in a novel institutional setting featuring quasi-experimental variation in tax salience, economically significant tax amounts, and endogenous price responses.

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  • Sebastien Bradley & Naomi E. Feldman, 2020. "Hidden Baggage: Behavioral Responses to Changes in Airline Ticket Tax Disclosure," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 58-87, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:12:y:2020:i:4:p:58-87
    DOI: 10.1257/pol.20190200
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    Cited by:

    1. Santiago Garriga & Dario Tortarolo, 2020. "Wage effects of employer-mediated transfers," Discussion Papers 2020-08, Nottingham Interdisciplinary Centre for Economic and Political Research (NICEP).
    2. Botteon Costa, Raone & Ferman, Bruno & Monte, Daniel, 2020. "Baggage fees in airlines: Is this a good idea?," MPRA Paper 101864, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Vasudha Jain & Mark Whitmeyer, 2021. "Search and Competition with Flexible Investigations," Papers 2104.13159, arXiv.org.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • L84 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Personal, Professional, and Business Services
    • L93 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Air Transportation

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