IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/oup/renvpo/v13y2019i1p104-123..html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Distributional Impacts of Energy Taxes

Author

Listed:
  • William A Pizer
  • Steven Sexton

Abstract

Taxes have long been advocated by economists for efficient pollution control, particularly in the energy sector. However, these taxes may enjoy less political support than standards-based regulation at least partly because of the common assumption that they place a greater burden on the poor than the rich. This article evaluates the validity of that assumption by reviewing the literature on the distributional impacts of energy taxes and by analyzing energy consumption surveys in select countries. The evidence suggests that energy taxes need not be as regressive as is often assumed. We find that the incidence (i.e., distributional impact) of such taxes depends upon the energy commodities that are taxed; the physical, social, and climatic characteristics of the jurisdictions in which they are implemented; and the use of energy tax revenues. We also show that the variation in household energy expenditure is greater within income groups than across income groups and that such variation is not easily reduced.

Suggested Citation

  • William A Pizer & Steven Sexton, 2019. "The Distributional Impacts of Energy Taxes," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 13(1), pages 104-123.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:renvpo:v:13:y:2019:i:1:p:104-123.
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/reep/rey021
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Rausch Sebastian & Metcalf Gilbert E. & Reilly John M & Paltsev Sergey, 2010. "Distributional Implications of Alternative U.S. Greenhouse Gas Control Measures," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-46, July.
    2. Cramton, Peter & Kerr, Suzi, 2002. "Tradeable carbon permit auctions: How and why to auction not grandfather," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 333-345, March.
    3. Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Stress that Doesn't Pay: The Commuting Paradox," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(2), pages 339-366, June.
    4. Musgrave, Richard A., 1990. "Horizontal Equity, Once More," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 43(2), pages 113-22, June.
    5. Lawrence H. Goulder & Ian W.H. Parry & Roberton C. Williams III & Dallas Burtraw, 2002. "The Cost-Effectiveness of Alternative Instruments for Environmental Protection in a Second-Best Setting," Chapters, in: Lawrence H. Goulder (ed.), Environmental Policy Making in Economies with Prior Tax Distortions, chapter 27, pages 523-554, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Meredith Fowlie & Christopher R. Knittel & Catherine Wolfram, 2012. "Sacred Cars? Cost-Effective Regulation of Stationary and Nonstationary Pollution Sources," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 98-126, February.
    7. Don Fullerton, 1996. "Why Have Separate Environmental Taxes?," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 10, pages 33-70, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Metcalf, Gilbert E., 1999. "A Distributional Analysis of Green Tax Reforms," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 52(4), pages 655-682, December.
    9. Don Fullerton & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2002. "Environmental Controls, Scarcity Rents, and Pre-existing Distortions," Chapters, in: Lawrence H. Goulder (ed.), Environmental Policy Making in Economies with Prior Tax Distortions, chapter 26, pages 504-522, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Ian W.H. Parry, 2002. "Pollution Taxes and Revenue Reycling," Chapters, in: Lawrence H. Goulder (ed.), Environmental Policy Making in Economies with Prior Tax Distortions, chapter 15, pages 235-248, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Nicholas Bull & Kevin A. Hassett & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 1994. "Who Pays Broad-Based Energy Taxes? Computing Lifetime and Regional Incidence," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 145-164.
    12. Ian W.H. Parry & Antonio M. Bento, 2002. "Tax Deductions, Environmental Policy, and the "Double Dividend" Hypothesis," Chapters, in: Lawrence H. Goulder (ed.), Environmental Policy Making in Economies with Prior Tax Distortions, chapter 22, pages 397-426, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    13. Musgrave, Richard A., 1990. "Horizontal Equity, Once More," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 43(2), pages 113-122, June.
    14. James M. Poterba, 1991. "Is the Gasoline Tax Regressive?," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 5, pages 145-164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Alan J. Auerbach & Kevin A. Hassett, 2002. "A New Measure of Horizontal Equity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1116-1125, September.
    16. Bovenberg, A. Lans & Goulder, Lawrence H., 2002. "Environmental taxation and regulation," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1471-1545, Elsevier.
    17. Don Fullerton, 2011. "Six Distributional Effects of Environmental Policy," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 31(6), pages 923-929, June.
    18. Blonz, Joshua & Burtraw, Dallas & Walls, Margaret A., 2010. "Climate Policy’s Uncertain Outcomes for Households: The Role of Complex Allocation Schemes in Cap and Trade," RFF Working Paper Series dp-10-12, Resources for the Future.
    19. Baumol,William J. & Oates,Wallace E., 1988. "The Theory of Environmental Policy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521322249, January.
    20. de Bovenberg, A Lans & Mooij, Ruud A, 1994. "Environmental Levies and Distortionary Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 1085-1089, September.
    21. Roberton C. Williams III & Hal Gordon & Dallas Burtraw & Jared C. Carbone & Richard D. Morgenstern, 2015. "The Initial Incidence of a Carbon Tax Across Income Groups," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 68(1), pages 195-214, March.
    22. Blonz Joshua & Burtraw Dallas & Walls Margaret A, 2010. "Climate Policy's Uncertain Outcomes for Households: The Role of Complex Allocation Schemes in Cap-and-Trade," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-35, November.
    23. Don Fullerton & Garth Heutel & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2012. "Does the Indexing of Government Transfers Make Carbon Pricing Progressive?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 94(2), pages 347-353.
    24. Milton Friedman, 1957. "A Theory of the Consumption Function," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie57-1, March.
    25. Metcalf, Gilbert E., 1999. "A Distributional Analysis of Green Tax Reforms," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 4), pages 655-82, December.
    26. Florens Flues & Alastair Thomas, 2015. "The distributional effects of energy taxes," OECD Taxation Working Papers 23, OECD Publishing.
    27. Rausch, Sebastian & Metcalf, Gilbert E. & Reilly, John M., 2011. "Distributional impacts of carbon pricing: A general equilibrium approach with micro-data for households," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(S1), pages 20-33.
    28. Louis Kaplow, 2000. "Horizontal Equity: New Measures, Unclear Principles," NBER Working Papers 7649, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    29. Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2009. "Market-Based Policy Options to Control U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 5-27, Spring.
    30. Slesnick, Daniel T, 1989. "The Measurement of Horizontal Inequality," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(3), pages 481-490, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Julie Anne Cronin & Don Fullerton & Steven Sexton, 2019. "Vertical and Horizontal Redistributions from a Carbon Tax and Rebate," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(S1), pages 169-208.
    2. Vona, Francesco, 2023. "Managing the distributional effects of climate policies: A narrow path to a just transition," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 205(C).
    3. Nils Ohlendorf & Michael Jakob & Jan Christoph Minx & Carsten Schröder & Jan Christoph Steckel, 2021. "Distributional Impacts of Carbon Pricing: A Meta-Analysis," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 78(1), pages 1-42, January.
    4. 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.
    5. Nils Ohlendorf & Michael Jakob & Jan Christoph Minx & Carsten Schröder & Jan Christoph Steckel, 2018. "Distributional Impacts of Climate Mitigation Policies - a Meta-Analysis," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1776, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    6. 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.
    7. Rausch, Sebastian & Metcalf, Gilbert E. & Reilly, John M., 2011. "Distributional impacts of carbon pricing: A general equilibrium approach with micro-data for households," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(S1), pages 20-33.
    8. van der Ploeg, Frederick & Rezai, Armon & Tovar Reanos, Miguel, 2022. "Gathering support for green tax reform: Evidence from German household surveys," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 141(C).
    9. Thomas Douenne, 2018. "The vertical and horizontal distributive effects of energy taxes," Working Papers 2018.10, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    10. Aubert, Diane & Chiroleu-Assouline, Mireille, 2019. "Environmental tax reform and income distribution with imperfect heterogeneous labour markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 60-82.
    11. Ravigné, Emilien & Ghersi, Frédéric & Nadaud, Franck, 2022. "Is a fair energy transition possible? Evidence from the French low-carbon strategy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 196(C).
    12. Jan Siegmeier & Linus Mattauch & Max Franks & David Klenert & Anselm Schultes & Ottmar Edenhofer, 2015. "A Public Finance Perspective on Climate Policy: Six Interactions That May Enhance Welfare," Working Papers 2015.31, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    13. Metcalf, Gilbert E., 2019. "The distributional impacts of U.S. energy policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 926-929.
    14. Joshua Blonz & Dallas Burtraw & Margaret Walls, 2012. "Social safety nets and US climate policy costs," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(4), pages 474-490, July.
    15. Justin Caron & Jefferson Cole & Richard Goettle & Chikara Onda & James Mcfarland & Jared Woollacott, 2018. "Distributional Implications Of A National Co2 Tax In The U.S. Across Income Classes And Regions: A Multi-Model Overview," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 9(01), pages 1-32, February.
    16. 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.
    17. Frederick Ploeg, 2021. "Carbon pricing under uncertainty," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 28(5), pages 1122-1142, October.
    18. A. Lans Bovenberg & Lawrence H. Goulder, 2001. "Neutralizing the Adverse Industry Impacts of CO2 Abatement Policies: What Does It Cost?," NBER Chapters, in: Behavioral and Distributional Effects of Environmental Policy, pages 45-90, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Hänsel, Martin C. & Franks, Max & Kalkuhl, Matthias & Edenhofer, Ottmar, 2022. "Optimal carbon taxation and horizontal equity: A welfare-theoretic approach with application to German household data," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    20. Bovenberg, A. Lans & Goulder, Lawrence H., 2002. "Environmental taxation and regulation," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1471-1545, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:renvpo:v:13:y:2019:i:1:p:104-123.. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Oxford University Press (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aereeea.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.