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Who Pays Cigarette Taxes? The Impact of Consumer Price Search

  • Philip DeCicca

    (McMaster University and NBER)

  • Donald Kenkel

    (NBER and Cornell University)

  • Feng Liu

    (Shanghai University of Finance and Economics)

We conduct an empirical study of the impact of consumer price search on the shifting of cigarette excise taxes to consumer prices. We use novel data on the prices that smokers report paying and document substantial price dispersion. We find that cigarette taxes are shifted at lower rates to carton buyers and, especially, smokers who buy cartons of cigarettes in a state other than their state of residence. We also find evidence that taxes are shifted at somewhat lower rates to the prices paid by heavier smokers and at somewhat higher rates to the prices paid by smokers of light cigarettes. © 2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/REST_a_00303
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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 516-529

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:95:y:2013:i:2:p:516-529
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  1. Andrew B. Lyon & Robert M. Schwab, 1991. "Consumption Taxes in a Life-Cycle Framework: Are Sin Taxes Regressive?," NBER Working Papers 3932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. James J. Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2005. "Structural Equations, Treatment Effects and Econometric Policy Evaluation," NBER Technical Working Papers 0306, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Philip DeCicca & Donald S. Kenkel & Alan D. Mathios & Yoon-Jeong Shin & Jae-Young Lim, 2006. "Youth Smoking, Cigarette Prices, and Anti-Smoking Sentiment," NBER Working Papers 12458, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Philip DeCicca & Donald S. Kenkel & Feng Liu, 2010. "Excise Tax Avoidance: The Case of State Cigarette Taxes," NBER Working Papers 15941, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Saul Lach, 2002. "Existence and Persistence of Price Dispersion: an Empirical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 8737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Gregory J. Colman & Dahlia K. Remler, 2008. "Vertical equity consequences of very high cigarette tax increases: If the poor are the ones smoking, how could cigarette tax increases be progressive?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(2), pages 376-400.
  8. Delipalla, Sophia & O'Donnell, Owen, 2001. "Estimating tax incidence, market power and market conduct: The European cigarette industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 885-908, May.
  9. George J. Stigler, 1961. "The Economics of Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 213.
  10. Hanson, Andrew & Sullivan, Ryan, 2009. "The Incidence of Tobacco Taxation: Evidence from Geographic Micro-Level Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 62(4), pages 677-98, December.
  11. Johnson, Terry R, 1978. "Additional Evidence on the Effects of Alternative Taxes on Cigarette Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(2), pages 325-28, April.
  12. Besley, Timothy, 1989. "Commodity taxation and imperfect competition : A note on the effects of entry," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 359-367, December.
  13. Barzel, Yoram, 1976. "An Alternative Approach to the Analysis of Taxation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1177-97, December.
  14. James Alm & Edward Sennoga & Mark Skidmore, 2009. "Perfect Competition, Urbanization, And Tax Incidence In The Retail Gasoline Market," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(1), pages 118-134, 01.
  15. Keeler, Theodore E. & Hu, Teh-wei & Barnett, Paul G. & Manning, Willard G. & Sung, Hai-Yen, 1996. "Do cigarette producers price-discriminate by state? An empirical analysis of local cigarette pricing and taxation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 499-512, August.
  16. Donald S. Kenkel, 2005. "Are Alcohol Tax Hikes Fully Passed Through to Prices? Evidence from Alaska," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 273-277, May.
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