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The Importance of Habit Formation for Environmental Taxation

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  • Löfgren, Åsa

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Nordblom, Katarina

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

Abstract

We analyze how habit formation affects optimal environmental taxation, when consumption of a habitual good causes a negative external effect on the environment. In a simple two-period model, we show that optimal taxation is still Pigouvian, where tax rates equal marginal damage in each period. However, the magnitudes of the tax rates are affected by habit formation. Using simulations we show that since consumption of the habitual good increases over time, so does the optimal tax rate, implying a higher tax rate in period two than in period one. The discrepancy increases in habitual strength. Given the development of the tax rates over time we discuss the welfare loss from imposing a secondbest environmental tax and its relation to habitual strength. Further, we analyze how optimal taxation changes if we relax the assumption of time-consistency.

Suggested Citation

  • Löfgren, Åsa & Nordblom, Katarina, 2006. "The Importance of Habit Formation for Environmental Taxation," Working Papers in Economics 204, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0204
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/2710
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bowman, David & Minehart, Deborah & Rabin, Matthew, 1999. "Loss aversion in a consumption-savings model," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 155-178, February.
    2. Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999. "Doing It Now or Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
    3. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
    4. Raquel Carrasco & José M. Labeaga & J. David López-Salido, 2005. "Consumption and Habits: Evidence from Panel Data," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 144-165, January.
    5. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
    6. Ronald Wendner, 2004. "Frames of reference, the environment, and efficient taxation," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 13-31, January.
    7. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Köszegi, 2001. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1261-1303.
    8. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Koszegi, 2000. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7507, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Pollak, Robert A, 1970. "Habit Formation and Dynamic Demand Functions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(4), pages 745-763, Part I Ju.
    10. Charles Ballard & John Goddeeris & Sang-Kyum Kim, 2005. "Non-Homothetic Preferences and the Non-Environmental Effects of Environmental Taxes," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 12(2), pages 115-130, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Elisabeth Gsottbauer & Jeroen Bergh, 2011. "Environmental Policy Theory Given Bounded Rationality and Other-regarding Preferences," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 49(2), pages 263-304, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Optimal taxation; environment; habit formation; secondbest; myopia;

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • 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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