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The Welfare Effects of Misperceived Product Costs: Data and Calibrations from the Automobile Market

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  • Hunt Allcott

Abstract

This analysis exploits new data from the Vehicle Ownership and Alternatives Survey, which elicits beliefs over the financial benefits of owning higher fuel economy vehicles. The data are used to test for underestimation and to document evidence of "MPG Illusion": consumers think as if fuel costs scale linearly in miles per gallon instead of gallons per mile. Counterfactuals suggest that the MPG Illusion reduces welfare by less than $4 per new vehicle. Furthermore, even the most severe plausible underestimation of the financial benefits of fuel economy cannot account for the consumer welfare gains attributed to fuel economy standards.

Suggested Citation

  • Hunt Allcott, 2013. "The Welfare Effects of Misperceived Product Costs: Data and Calibrations from the Automobile Market," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 30-66, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:5:y:2013:i:3:p:30-66
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.5.3.30
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L62 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment; Related Parts and Equipment

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    1. The Welfare Effects of Misperceived Product Costs: Data and Calibrations from the Automobile Market (American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 2013) in ReplicationWiki

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