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The Heterogeneous Geographic and Socioeconomic Incidence of Cigarette Taxes: Evidence from Nielsen Homescan Data

Author

Listed:
  • Matthew Harding
  • Ephraim Leibtag
  • Michael F. Lovenheim

Abstract

We use Nielsen Homescan data to examine who bears the economic burden of cigarette taxes. We find cigarette taxes are less than fully passed through to consumer prices, suggesting consumers and producers split the excess burden of these taxes. Using information on consumer location, we show the availability of lower-tax goods across state borders creates significant differences in the pass-through rate. Tax avoidance opportunities also have a sizable effect on purchasing behavior by altering consumer search, prices paid and quantities purchased. Finally, we demonstrate that the incidence of cigarette taxes and the border effect varies by household income and education. (JEL D12, H22, H25, H26, H71, L66)

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Harding & Ephraim Leibtag & Michael F. Lovenheim, 2012. "The Heterogeneous Geographic and Socioeconomic Incidence of Cigarette Taxes: Evidence from Nielsen Homescan Data," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 169-198, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:4:y:2012:i:4:p:169-98
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.4.4.169
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Besley, Timothy J. & Rosen, Harvey S., 1999. "Sales Taxes and Prices: An Empirical Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 52(2), pages 157-178, June.
    2. Burda, Martin & Harding, Matthew & Hausman, Jerry, 2008. "A Bayesian mixed logit-probit model for multinomial choice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 147(2), pages 232-246, December.
    3. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Life-Cycle Prices and Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1533-1559, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • L66 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Food; Beverages; Cosmetics; Tobacco

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