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Why is the USA so energy intensive? Evidence from US multinationals in the UK

  • Ralf Martin

At present the USA is - in per capita terms - the top greenhouse gas polluter among the world�s major economies. This is mirrored by the high energy intensity of all sectors of the US economy including manufacturing industries. A potential explanation for the higher energy intensity are lower US energy price levels. However, common price elasticity estimates are not high enough to explain the observed differences between countries. Alternative explanations include firstly geographic or other locational differences and secondly firm specific technology differences between US firms and others. This study explores this latter possibility by comparing establishments of US firms in Britain with other comparable firms thereby ruling out locational difierences. The findings are that on average US firms are not more energy intensive when operating in Britain. However, US firms that have only recently entered the UK market are found to be significantly more energy intensive at an order of magnitude corresponding to the between country US-UK gap. This difference vanishes with increased duration of staying in the UK, however with a considerable time lag. This suggests firstly, that barriers to knowledge difiusion are an important concern and secondly, that the long term response to a sustained price increase might be stronger than common price elasticity estimates suggest. The study also provides, for the first time, estimates of energy price elasticities for the UK on the basis of representative plant level panel data for the manufacturing sector,

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Paper provided by Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in its series GRI Working Papers with number 15.

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Date of creation: Jan 2010
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Handle: RePEc:lsg:lsgwps:wp15
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  1. Chiara Criscuolo & Ralf Martin, 2004. "Multinationals and U.S. Productivity Leadership: Evidence from Great Britain," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2004/5, OECD Publishing.
  2. Roy, Joyashree & Sanstad, Alan H. & Sathaye, Jayant A. & Khaddaria, Raman, 2006. "Substitution and price elasticity estimates using inter-country pooled data in a translog cost model," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(5-6), pages 706-719, November.
  3. Ralf Martin, 2008. "Productivity dispersion, competition and productivity measurement," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19573, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1351-1408, November.
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  6. Van Reenen, John & Caroli, Eve, 2001. "Skill-Biased Organizational Change? Evidence from a panel of British and French establishments," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/10093, Paris Dauphine University.
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  8. Blackman, Allen, 1999. "The Economics of Technology Diffusion: Implications for Climate Policy in Developing Countries," Discussion Papers dp-99-42, Resources For the Future.
  9. Nick Bloom & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Americans do I.T. better: US multinationals and the productivity miracle," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4555, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  10. Robert Inklaar & Mary O'Mahony & Marcel Timmer, 2005. "ICT AND EUROPE's PRODUCTIVITY PERFORMANCE: INDUSTRY-LEVEL GROWTH ACCOUNT COMPARISONS WITH THE UNITED STATES," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(4), pages 505-536, December.
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  12. Klette, T.J., 1998. "Market Power, Scale Economies and Productivity: Estimates from a Panel of Establishment Data," Memorandum 15/1998, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
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  14. Griffin, James M & Gregory, Paul R, 1976. "An Intercountry Translog Model of Energy Substitution Responses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(5), pages 845-57, December.
  15. Mary O’Mahony & Willem de Boer, 2002. "Britain’s Relative Productivity Performance: Has Anything Changed?," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 179(1), pages 38-43, January.
  16. Karen Palmer & Wallace E. Oates & Paul R. Portney, 1995. "Tightening Environmental Standards: The Benefit-Cost or the No-Cost Paradigm?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 119-132, Fall.
  17. Jaffe Adam B. & Stavins Robert N., 1995. "Dynamic Incentives of Environmental Regulations: The Effects of Alternative Policy Instruments on Technology Diffusion," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages S43-S63, November.
  18. Pindyck, Robert S, 1979. "Interfuel Substitution and the Industrial Demand for Energy: An International Comparison," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(2), pages 169-79, May.
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