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Household heterogeneity, aggregation, and the distributional impacts of environmental taxes

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  • Rausch, Sebastian
  • Schwarz, Giacomo A.

Abstract

This paper examines how the general equilibrium incidence of an environmental tax depends on the effect of different incomes and preferences of heterogeneous households on aggregate outcomes. We develop a Harberger-type model with general forms of preferences and substitution between capital, labor, and pollution in production that captures the impact of household heterogeneity and interactions with production characteristics on the general equilibrium. We theoretically show that failing to incorporate household heterogeneity can qualitatively affect incidence. We quantitatively illustrate that this aggregation bias can be important for assessing the incidence of a carbon tax, mainly by affecting the returns to factors of production. Our findings are robust to a number of extensions including alternative revenue recycling schemes, pre-existing taxes, non-separable utility in pollution, labor–leisure choice, and multiple commodities.

Suggested Citation

  • Rausch, Sebastian & Schwarz, Giacomo A., 2016. "Household heterogeneity, aggregation, and the distributional impacts of environmental taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 43-57.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:138:y:2016:i:c:p:43-57
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2016.04.004
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    Cited by:

    1. Zhang, Zengkai & Zhang, Zhongxiang, 2017. "Intermediate input linkage and carbon leakage," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(6), pages 725-746, December.
    2. Jan Abrell & Sebastian Rausch & Giacomo A. Schwarz, 2016. "Social Equity Concerns and Differentiated Environmental Taxes," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 16/262, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    3. Cloé Garnache & Pierre Mérel, 2020. "Environmental Policy in General Equilibrium: New Insights from a Canonical Model," CESifo Working Paper Series 8354, CESifo.
    4. Nong, Duy, 2018. "General equilibrium economy-wide impacts of the increased energy taxes in Vietnam," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 471-481.
    5. Xiao, Bowen & Fan, Ying & Guo, Xiaodan, 2018. "Exploring the macroeconomic fluctuations under different environmental policies in China: A DSGE approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 439-456.
    6. Audrey Berry, 2017. "Compensating households from carbon tax regressivity and fuel poverty: a microsimulation study," Policy Papers 2017.08, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    7. Abrell, Jan & Rausch, Sebastian & Schwarz, Giacomo A., 2018. "How robust is the uniform emissions pricing rule to social equity concerns?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 783-814.
    8. Berry, Audrey, 2019. "The distributional effects of a carbon tax and its impact on fuel poverty: A microsimulation study in the French context," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 81-94.
    9. Yip, Chi Man, 2018. "On the labor market consequences of environmental taxes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 136-152.
    10. Wang, Ren & Hou, Jie & Jiang, Zhujun, 2021. "Environmental policies with financing constraints in China," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C).
    11. Ulrike Kornek & David Klenert & Ottmar Edenhofer & Marc Fleurbaey, 2019. "The social cost of carbon and inequality: when local redistribution shapes global carbon prices," CESifo Working Paper Series 7628, CESifo.
    12. Christoph Boehringer & Nicholas Rivers, 2018. "The energy efficiency rebound effect in general equilibrium," Working Papers V-410-18, University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2018.
    13. Thomas Douenne, 2018. "The vertical and horizontal distributive effects of energy taxes," Policy Papers 2018.05, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    14. Dorothée CHARLIER & Mouez FODHA & Djamel KIRAT, 2021. "CO2 Emissions from the Residential Sector in Europe: Some Insights form a Country-Level Assessment," LEO Working Papers / DR LEO 2849, Orleans Economics Laboratory / Laboratoire d'Economie d'Orleans (LEO), University of Orleans.
    15. Waldemar Marz, 2019. "Komplexitätsdimensionen von Klimapolitik: Die Rolle von politischer Ökonomie, Kapitalmärkten und der Stadtform," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 85, May.
    16. Sebastian Rausch & Hidemichi Yonezawa, 2018. "The Intergenerational Incidence Of Green Tax Reform," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 9(01), pages 1-25, February.
    17. Audrey Berry, 2018. "Compensating households from carbon tax regressivity and fuel poverty: a microsimulation study," Working Papers hal-01691088, HAL.
    18. Pereira, Alfredo & Pereira, Rui, 2017. "The Role of Electricity for the Decarbonization of the Portuguese Economy - DGEP Technical Report," MPRA Paper 84782, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Environmental tax incidence; Heterogeneous households; General equilibrium; Aggregation bias; Distributional impacts;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects

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