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The Distributional Effects of a Carbon Tax on Current and Future Generations

Author

Listed:
  • Stephie Fried
  • Kevin Novan
  • William B. Peterman

    (University of California San Diego
    United States)

Abstract

This paper examines the non-environmental welfare effects of introducing a revenue- neutral carbon tax policy. Using a life cycle model, we find that the welfare effects of the policy differ substantially for agents who are alive when the policy is enacted compared to those who are born into the new steady state with the carbon tax in place. Consistent with previous studies, we demonstrate that, for those born in the new steady state, the welfare costs are always lower when the carbon tax revenue is used to reduce an existing distortionary tax as opposed to being returned in the form of lump-sum payments. In contrast, during the transition, we find that rebating the revenue with a lump sum transfer is less costly than using the revenue to reduce the distortionary labor tax. Additionally, we find that the tax policy is substantially more regressive over the transition than in the steady state, regardless of what is done with the revenue. Overall, our results demonstrate that estimates of the non-environmental welfare costs of carbon tax policies that are based solely on the long-run, steady state outcomes may ultimately paint too rosy of a picture. Thus, when designing climate policies, policymakers must pay careful attention to not only the long-run outcomes, but also the transitional welfare costs and regressivity of the policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephie Fried & Kevin Novan & William B. Peterman, 2016. "The Distributional Effects of a Carbon Tax on Current and Future Generations," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2016-038, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2016-38
    DOI: 10.17016/FEDS.2016.038
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    File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/feds/2016/files/2016038pap.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:wsi:ccexxx:v:09:y:2018:i:01:n:s2010007818400079 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Stephie Fried & Kevin Novan & William Peterman, 2019. "The Macro Effects of Anticipating Climate Policy," 2019 Meeting Papers 683, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Sebastian Rausch & Hidemichi Yonezawa, 2018. "The Intergenerational Incidence Of Green Tax Reform," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 9(01), pages 1-25, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Carbon taxation; overlapping generations;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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