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Do High Oil Prices Matter? Evidence on the Mobility Behavior of German Households


  • Manuel Frondel


  • Colin Vance



Focusing on travel survey data from Germany, this paper investigates the determinants of automobile travel, with the specific aim of quantifying the effects of fuel prices and fuel economy. The analysis is predicated on the notion that car mileage is a two-stage decision process, comprising the discrete choice of whether to own a car and the continuous choice of distance traveled. To capture this process, we employ censored regression models consisting of Probit and OLS estimators, which allows us to gauge the extent to which sample selectivity may bias the results. Our elasticity estimates indicate a significant positive association between increased fuel economy and increased driving, and a significantly negative fuel-price elasticity, which ranges between -35% and -41%. Taken together, these results suggest that fuel taxes are likely to be a more effective policy measure in reducing emissions than fuel- efficiency standards.
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Suggested Citation

  • Manuel Frondel & Colin Vance, 2009. "Do High Oil Prices Matter? Evidence on the Mobility Behavior of German Households," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 43(1), pages 81-94, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:43:y:2009:i:1:p:81-94
    DOI: 10.1007/s10640-008-9246-4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kenneth A. Small & Kurt Van Dender, 2007. "Fuel Efficiency and Motor Vehicle Travel: The Declining Rebound Effect," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 25-52.
    2. 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.
    3. Sorrell, Steve & Dimitropoulos, John, 2008. "The rebound effect: Microeconomic definitions, limitations and extensions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 636-649, April.
    4. Leung, Siu Fai & Yu, Shihti, 1996. "On the choice between sample selection and two-part models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1-2), pages 197-229.
    5. West, Sarah E., 2004. "Distributional effects of alternative vehicle pollution control policies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 735-757, March.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:95:y:2001:i:01:p:49-69_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    8. Manuel Frondel & Jorg Peters & Colin Vance, 2008. "Identifying the Rebound: Evidence from a German Household Panel," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 145-164.
    9. Hay, Joel W & Olsen, Randall J, 1984. "Let Them Eat Cake: A Note on Comparing Alternative Models of the Demand for Medical Care," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 2(3), pages 279-282, July.
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    More about this item


    Automobile travel; Rebound effect; Two-Part Model; D13; Q41;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices


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