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A Semiparametric Analysis of Gasoline Demand in the United States Reexamining The Impact of Price


  • Sebastiano Manzan
  • Dawit Zerom


The evaluation of the impact of an increase in gasoline tax on demand relies crucially on the estimate of the price elasticity. This article presents an extended application of the Partially Linear Additive Model (PLAM) to the analysis of gasoline demand using a panel of U.S. households, focusing mainly on the estimation of the price elasticity. Unlike previous semiparametric studies that use household-level data, we work with vehicle-level data within households that can potentially add richer details to the price variable. Both households and vehicles data are obtained from the Residential Transportation Energy Consumption Survey (RTECS) of 1991 and 1994, conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). As expected, the derived vehicle-based gasoline price has significant dispersion across the country and across grades of gasoline. By using a PLAM specification for gasoline demand, we obtain a measure of gasoline price elasticity that circumvents the implausible price effects reported in earlier studies. In particular, our results show the price elasticity ranges between -0.2, at low prices, and -0.5, at high prices, suggesting that households might respond differently to price changes depending on the level of price. In addition, we estimate separately the model to households that buy only regular gasoline and those that buy also midgrade/premium gasoline. The results show that the price elasticities for these groups are increasing in price and that regular households are more price sensitive compared to nonregular.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastiano Manzan & Dawit Zerom, 2010. "A Semiparametric Analysis of Gasoline Demand in the United States Reexamining The Impact of Price," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(4), pages 439-468.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:emetrv:v:29:y:2010:i:4:p:439-468
    DOI: 10.1080/07474930903562320

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    Cited by:

    1. Liu, Weiwei, 2015. "Gasoline taxes or efficiency standards? A heterogeneous household demand analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 54-64.
    2. Liu, Weiwei, 2014. "Modeling gasoline demand in the United States: A flexible semiparametric approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 244-253.
    3. Tiezzi, Silvia & Verde, Stefano F., 2016. "Differential demand response to gasoline taxes and gasoline prices in the U.S," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 71-91.
    4. repec:eee:eneeco:v:67:y:2017:i:c:p:346-354 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Havranek, Tomas & Irsova, Zuzana & Janda, Karel, 2012. "Demand for gasoline is more price-inelastic than commonly thought," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 201-207.
    6. Eakins, John, 2016. "An application of the double hurdle model to petrol and diesel household expenditures in Ireland," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 84-93.
    7. Marzoughi, Hassan & Kennedy, P. Lynn, "undated". "The Impact of Ethanol Production on the U.S. Gasoline Market," 2012 Annual Meeting, February 4-7, 2012, Birmingham, Alabama 119752, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
    8. Haotian Chen & Xibin Zhang, 2014. "Bayesian Estimation for Partially Linear Models with an Application to Household Gasoline Consumption," Monash Econometrics and Business Statistics Working Papers 28/14, Monash University, Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics.


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