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The incidence of fuel taxation in India


  • Ashokankur Datta

    () (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi
    Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)


Fuel taxes have returned to centre stage as a potential policy instrument for greenhouse gas abatement. However critics have complained that a fuel tax is regressive. Such claims are based on few studies conducted in developed countries. This paper tests the validity of this claim for India. It uses data from a representative household survey covering more than 124 thousand Indian households. The study finds that a fuel tax is progressive. Using an input-output approach, this paper tries to study the distributional effect, once price change in non fuel goods (arising out of fuel tax) is considered. The progressivity result holds good even when one considers indirect consumption of fuel through its use as an intermediate input.

Suggested Citation

  • Ashokankur Datta, 2008. "The incidence of fuel taxation in India," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 08-05, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
  • Handle: RePEc:ind:isipdp:08-05

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James M. Poterba, 1991. "Is the Gasoline Tax Regressive?," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 5, pages 145-164 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Steininger, Karl W. & Friedl, Birgit & Gebetsroither, Brigitte, 2007. "Sustainability impacts of car road pricing: A computable general equilibrium analysis for Austria," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 59-69, June.
    3. West, Sarah E. & Williams, R.C.Roberton III, 2004. "Estimates from a consumer demand system: implications for the incidence of environmental taxes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 535-558, May.
    4. West, Sarah E., 2004. "Distributional effects of alternative vehicle pollution control policies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 735-757, March.
    5. Gupta, Gautam & Kohlin, Gunnar, 2006. "Preferences for domestic fuel: Analysis with socio-economic factors and rankings in Kolkata, India," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 107-121, April.
    6. Ramanathan, R., 1999. "Short- and long-run elasticities of gasoline demand in India: An empirical analysis using cointegration techniques," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 321-330, August.
    7. Gangopadhyay, Shubhashis & Ramaswami, Bharat & Wadhwa, Wilima, 2005. "Reducing subsidies on household fuels in India: how will it affect the poor?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(18), pages 2326-2336, December.
    8. Kangni R Kpodar, 2006. "Distributional Effects of Oil Price Changeson Household Expenditures; Evidence From Mali," IMF Working Papers 06/91, International Monetary Fund.
    9. Gundimeda, Haripriya & Kohlin, Gunnar, 2008. "Fuel demand elasticities for energy and environmental policies: Indian sample survey evidence," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 517-546, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Blackman, Allen & Osakwe, Rebecca & Alpizar, Francisco, 2010. "Fuel tax incidence in developing countries: The case of Costa Rica," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 2208-2215, May.
    2. Sterner, Thomas, 2012. "Distributional effects of taxing transport fuel," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 75-83.

    More about this item


    carbon emission; tax burden; regressivity;

    JEL classification:

    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling


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