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Unit Vs. Ad Valorem Taxes in Multi-Product Cournot Oligopoly

  • Lapan, Harvey E.
  • Hennessy, David A.

The welfare dominance of ad valorem taxes over unit taxes in a single-market Cournot oligopoly is well-known. This article extends the analysis to multi-market oligopoly. Provided all ad valorem taxes are positive, unit costs are constant, firms are active in all considered markets, and a representative consumer has convex preferences, it is shown that ad valorem taxes dominate in multi-product equilibrium. We discuss the role of unit cost covariances across multi-product firms in determining the extent of cost efficiencies arising under ad valorem taxation. The issue of merger under oligopoly is also considered. Conditions are identified under which a merger increases the sum of consumer and producer surpluses while also increasing the revenue yield from a set of unit taxes. If not all firms are active in all considered markets, then it is also shown that additional conditions are required to ensure the dominance of ad valorem taxes. In multi-input Cournot oligopsony, however, unit taxation welfare dominates. This is because ad valorem taxes on inputs reduce demand elasticities, amplifying market power distortions.

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Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 12780.

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Date of creation: 09 Apr 2007
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Publication status: Published in Journal of Public Economic Theory, February 2011, vol. 13 no. 1, pp. 125-138
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:12780
Contact details of provider: Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.edu
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  1. Simon P. Anderson & Andre de Palma & Brent Kreider, 2000. "The Efficiency of Indirect Taxes under Imperfect Competition," Virginia Economics Online Papers 342, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  2. Hennessy, David A. & Lapan, Harvey E., 2005. "Statistical Moments Analysis of Production and Profits in Multi-Product Cournot Oligopoly," Staff General Research Papers 12471, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Delipalla, Sofia & Keen, Michael, 1992. "The comparison between ad valorem and specific taxation under imperfect competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 351-367, December.
  4. Bergstrom, Theodore C. & Varian, Hal R., 1985. "Two remarks on Cournot equilibria," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 5-8.
  5. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, . "The LeChatelier Principle," Working Papers 95007, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  6. Lapan, Harvey E. & Hennessy, David A., 2006. "A note on cost arrangement and market performance in a multi-product Cournot oligopoly," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 583-591, May.
  7. Skeath, Susan E. & Trandel, Gregory A., 1994. "A Pareto comparison of ad valorem and unit taxes in noncompetitive environments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 53-71, January.
  8. Blackorby, Charles & Murty, Sushama, 2007. "Unit versus ad valorem taxes: Monopoly in general equilibrium," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3-4), pages 817-822, April.
  9. Greg Shaffer & Stephen W. Salant, 1999. "Unequal Treatment of Identical Agents in Cournot Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 585-604, June.
  10. Hamilton, Stephen F., 1999. "The comparative efficiency of ad valorem and specific taxes under monopoly and monopsony," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 235-238, May.
  11. Vincenzo Denicolo & Massimo Matteuzzi, 2000. "Specific and Ad Valorem Taxation in Asymmetric Cournot Oligopolies," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 335-342, May.
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