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Policy Watch: The Economics of Fuel Economy Standards

  • Paul R. Portney
  • Ian W.H. Parry
  • Howard K. Gruenspecht
  • Winston Harrington

One of the most hotly contested of all energy policy issues involves Corporate Average Fuel Economy (or CAFE) standards for new cars and light-duty trucks. Tighter standards would reduce gasoline consumption, and hence both greenhouse gas emissions as well as this country's vulnerability to oil price shocks. But they would also increase the price of new vehicles, worsen traffic congestion and--depending on how they are phased in--possibly even reduce occupant safety. These effects are amenable to economic analysis, and we review the evidence to date bearing on this interesting and important question.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/089533003772034961
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 17 (2003)
Issue (Month): 4 (Fall)
Pages: 203-217

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:17:y:2003:i:4:p:203-217
Note: DOI: 10.1257/089533003772034961
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  1. Robert Barsky & Lutz Kilian, 2004. "Oil and the Macroeconomy Since the 1970s," NBER Working Papers 10855, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Clifton T Jones, 1993. "Another Look at U.S. Passenger Vehicle Use and the 'Rebound' Effect from Improved Fuel Efficiency," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 99-110.
  3. Thorpe, Steven G, 1997. "Fuel Economy Standards, New Vehicle Sales, and Average Fuel Efficiency," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 311-26, May.
  4. Kleit, Andrew N, 1990. "The Effect of Annual Changes in Automobile Fuel Economy Standards," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 151-72, June.
  5. Hamilton, James D., 1996. "This is what happened to the oil price-macroeconomy relationship," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 215-220, October.
  6. Rajeev K. Goel & Michael A. Nelson, 1999. "The Political Economy of Motor-Fuel Taxation," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 43-59.
  7. David L. Greene & James R. Kahn & Robert C. Gibson, 1999. "Fuel Economy Rebound Effect for U.S. Household Vehicles," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 1-31.
  8. Richard S.J. Tol & Samuel Fankhauser & Richard G. Richels & Joel B. Smith, 2000. "How Much Damage Will Climate Change Do?," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 1(4), pages 179-206, October.
  9. Mansfield, Edwin, et al, 1977. "Social and Private Rates of Return from Industrial Innovations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 221-40, May.
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