The Free Electricity Allowance and the Engel Curve
In 1994 over 18 per cent of Irish households possessed a free electricity allowance. This creates complications in using the 1994-95 Household Budget Survey to estimate an Engel curve for electricity expenditure. Ignoring the allowances leads to biased estimates of elasticities and distorts comparisons between sectors. Examining the sub-populations with and without allowances results in conclusions leading to a substantial revision of the income elasticity for household electricity expenditure and to deductions about possible current and past welfare losses inherent in the free electricity scheme.
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