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When are Anonymous Congestion Charges Consistent with Marginal Cost Pricing?

  • Richard Arnott

    ()

    (Boston College)

  • Marvin Kraus

    ()

    (Boston College)

There are constraints on pricing congestible facilities. First, if heterogeneous users are observationally indistinguishable, then congestion charges must be anonymous. Second, the time variation of congestion charges may be constrained. Do these constraints undermine the feasibility of marginal cost pricing, and hence the applicability of the first-best theory of congestible facilities? We show that if heterogeneous users behave identically when using the congestible facility and if the time variation of congestion charges is unconstrained, then marginal cost pricing is feasible with anonymous congestion charges. If, however, the time variation of congestion charges is constrained, optimal pricing with anonymous congestion charges entails Ramsey pricing.

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Paper provided by Boston College Department of Economics in its series Boston College Working Papers in Economics with number 354..

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 1997
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published, Journal of Public Economics, 1998.
Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:354
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  1. Mohring, Herbert, 1970. "The Peak Load Problem with Increasing Returns and Pricing Constraints," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(4), pages 693-705, September.
  2. Braeutigam, Ronald R., 1989. "Optimal policies for natural monopolies," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 23, pages 1289-1346 Elsevier.
  3. Arnott Richard & Kraus Marvin, 1995. "Financing Capacity in the Bottleneck Model," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 272-290, November.
  4. Dorfman, Robert, 1969. "An Economic Interpretation of Optimal Control Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(5), pages 817-31, December.
  5. Vickrey, William S, 1969. "Congestion Theory and Transport Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 251-60, May.
  6. Henderson, J. Vernon, 1981. "The economics of staggered work hours," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 349-364, May.
  7. Arnott, Richard & de Palma, Andre & Lindsey, Robin, 1993. "A Structural Model of Peak-Period Congestion: A Traffic Bottleneck with Elastic Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 161-79, March.
  8. Berglas, Eitan & Pines, David, 1981. "Clubs, local public goods and transportation models : A synthesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 141-162, April.
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