Local price variation and the tax incidence of state lotteries
This paper explores the seemingly innocuous practice of ignoring the local price vector in empirical models of lottery demand. We argue using consumer theory that local consumption prices should be included and that the failure to consider local prices results in income elasticity of lottery demand estimates that are biased downward. Using a sample of MSAs, we find that, in accordance with our theory, local prices are a significant determinant of lottery sales and the income elasticity of demand for lotteries is greater in magnitude when the local price vector is considered. The degree of lottery regressivity is thus overstated when local prices are omitted. One notable finding is that the tax incidence of lotteries changes from regressive to progressive once the local price vector is included.
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