Transport consumption inequalities and redistributive effects of taxes: A repeated cross-sectional evaluation on French household data
This paper evaluates transport consumption inequalities among French households, investigates their temporal dynamics, and estimates the redistributive effects of taxes on different commodity categories. A decomposition by expenditure component of the Gini coefficient is applied, using household-level data from five expenditure surveys conducted between the end of the 1970’s and the early 2000’s. The results highlight the effect of car social diffusion. Indeed, the relative contribution to global inequality of car use items, especially fuels, decreased regularly over time, reflecting the more and more widespread use of the car. Moreover, fuel taxes become regressive (i.e. they affect the poor more than the rich), while the progressive character of taxes on the remaining car use commodities weakens over time. Therefore, the design of policy measures to reduce car use and thus attenuate its nuisances for the environment should also account for the imperative of equity. The case of local public transport underlines the necessity of accounting for disparities in terms of availability of alternatives to the car. Taxes on these services appear to be neutral (i.e. neither progressive nor regressive) at national level, but this result conceals a diversity of local conditions in terms of supply of these transport means according to the degree of urbanization and population density. Effectively, these taxes prove to be regressive when focusing on the Greater Paris region, a large urban area very well endowed with public transport infrastructure. Hence, a distinction by degree of urbanization is to be considered.
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