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Fiscal and Externality Rationales for Alcohol Policies

Author

Listed:
  • Parry Ian W. H.

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • West Sarah E

    () (Macalester College)

  • Laxminarayan Ramanan

    () (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

Alcohol taxes are typically justified as a means to address externalities from alcohol abuse and to raise government revenue. Prior literature has focused on measuring the Pigouvian tax but has paid little attention to the fiscal rationale. This paper presents an analytical and simulation framework for assessing the optimal levels, and welfare effects, of alcohol taxes and drunk driver penalties, accounting for both externalities and how policies interact with the broader fiscal system.Under plausible parameter values and recycling possibilities, the fiscal component of the optimal alcohol tax may be as large, or larger, than the externality-correcting component. Therefore, fiscal considerations can significantly strengthen the case for higher alcohol taxes. They also raise the welfare gains from alcohol taxes relative to those from drunk driver penalties, and they warrant differential taxation of individual beverages on an alcohol equivalent basis.

Suggested Citation

  • Parry Ian W. H. & West Sarah E & Laxminarayan Ramanan, 2009. "Fiscal and Externality Rationales for Alcohol Policies," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-48, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:9:y:2009:i:1:n:29
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gahvari Firouz & Taheripour Farzad, 2011. "Fiscal Reforms in General Equilibrium: Theory and an Application to the Subsidy Debate in Iran," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-54, June.
    2. Marcus, Jan & Siedler, Thomas, 2015. "Reducing binge drinking? The effect of a ban on late-night off-premise alcohol sales on alcohol-related hospital stays in Germany," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 55-77.
    3. Evan Herrnstadt & Ian Parry & Juha Siikamäki, 2015. "Do alcohol taxes in Europe and the US rightly correct for externalities?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(1), pages 73-101, February.
    4. Tscharaktschiew, Stefan, 2014. "Shedding light on the appropriateness of the (high) gasoline tax level in Germany," Economics of Transportation, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 189-210.

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