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Regulation and redistribution in utilities

  • Philip Burns
  • Ian Crawford

    ()

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Surrey)

  • Andrew Dilnot

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Oxford)

The consumption of utilities (for example, energy and water), along with that of other goods such as food, clothing, shelter, health and education, is often thought of as something that has particular distributional significance. This concern is reflected by the range of welfare and regulatory measures in place that are designed to guard against non-participation or under-consumption. The pricing of these goods illustrates well the conflicting arguments between economic efficiency and equity. The case for charging VAT on fuel, for example, is essentially an efficiency argument which points to the distortionary effects of a tax system that increases the prices of some goods (for example, double-glazing) and not of others (for example, domestic energy). The counter-argument is based upon notions of equity: that it is unfair to tax a necessity because the effects fall hardest on the living standards of poor households.

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Article provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its journal Fiscal Studies.

Volume (Year): 16 (1995)
Issue (Month): 4 (January)
Pages: 1-22

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Handle: RePEc:ifs:fistud:v:16:y:1995:i:4:p:1-22
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  1. Vanessa Brechling & Stephen Smith, 1994. "Household energy efficiency in the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 15(2), pages 44-56, May.
  2. Blundell, Richard & Pashardes, Panos & Weber, Guglielmo, 1993. "What Do We Learn About Consumer Demand Patterns from Micro Data?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 570-97, June.
  3. Hardle, Wolfgang & Linton, Oliver, 1986. "Applied nonparametric methods," Handbook of Econometrics, in: R. F. Engle & D. McFadden (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 38, pages 2295-2339 Elsevier.
  4. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1988. "Cash versus Kind, Self-selection, and Efficient Transfers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 691-700, September.
  5. Baker, Paul & Blundell, Richard, 1991. "The Microeconometric Approach to Modelling Energy Demand: Some Results for UK Households," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 54-76, Summer.
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