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Distribution and Dynamics in a Simple Tax Regime Transition


  • Nathaniel T. Wilcox

    () (Department of Economics, University of Houston)

  • Mark V. Van Boening

    (University of Mississippi)


We examine transitions between excise tax and license fee regimes in the laboratory. The regimes have matched equilibrium Marshallian surplus, but license fees generate more tax revenue. The license fees are large “avoidable costs,” known to hamper competitive equilibrium convergence. With moderately experienced subjects, the prolonged transition to the license fee equilibrium has these features: (1) Prices below equilibrium levels, resulting in firm losses; (2) Marshallian surplus above equilibrium levels; and (3) transitional windfalls for the tax authority. With highly experienced subjects, license fees lead to the instability and lower seller profits and efficiency observed in past avoidable cost markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Nathaniel T. Wilcox & Mark V. Van Boening, 2003. "Distribution and Dynamics in a Simple Tax Regime Transition," Working Papers 2003-02 Classification-C9, Department of Economics, University of Houston.
  • Handle: RePEc:hou:wpaper:2003-02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Van Boening, Mark V & Wilcox, Nathaniel T, 1996. "Avoidable Cost: Ride a Double Auction Roller Coaster," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 461-477, June.
    2. Plott, Charles R., 1989. "An updated review of industrial organization: Applications of experimental methods," Handbook of Industrial Organization,in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 19, pages 1109-1176 Elsevier.
    3. Smith, Vernon L, 1985. "Experimental Economics: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 264-272, March.
    4. Smith, Vernon L. & Williams, Arlington W., 1982. "The effects of rent asymmetries in experimental auction markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 99-116, March.
    5. Stern, Nicholas, 1992. "From the static to the dynamic: some problems in the theory of taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 273-297, March.
    6. Robert Moir, 1998. "A Monte Carlo Analysis of the Fisher Randomization Technique: Reviving Randomization for Experimental Economists," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(1), pages 87-100, June.
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