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Empirical Estimates for Environmental Policy Making in a Second-Best Setting

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  • Sarah E. West
  • Roberton C. Williams

Abstract

This study estimates parameters necessary to calculate the optimal second-best gasoline tax, most notably the cross-price elasticity between gasoline and leisure. Prior work indicates that in a second-best setting with distortionary income taxes, both the cost of environmental regulation and the optimal environmental tax rate depend crucially on the cross-price elasticity between a polluting good and leisure. However, no prior study on second-best environmental regulation has estimated this elasticity. Using household data, we find that gasoline is a relative complement to leisure, and thus that the optimal gasoline tax is significantly higher than marginal damages the opposite of the result suggested by the prior literature. Following this approach to estimate cross-price elasticities with leisure for other major polluting goods could strongly influence estimates of optimal environmental taxes.

Suggested Citation

  • Sarah E. West & Roberton C. Williams, 2004. "Empirical Estimates for Environmental Policy Making in a Second-Best Setting," NBER Working Papers 10330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10330
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    Cited by:

    1. Katri Kosonen & Gaetan Nicodeme, 2009. "The role of fiscal instruments in environmental policy," Taxation Papers 19, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
    2. 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.
    3. Fullerton, Don & Wolverton, Ann, 2005. "The two-part instrument in a second-best world," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1961-1975, September.
    4. Agostini, Claudio A. & Jiménez, Johanna, 2015. "The distributional incidence of the gasoline tax in Chile," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 243-252.
    5. Parry, Ian, 2005. "Should Fuel Taxes Be Scrapped in Favor of Per-Mile Charges?," Discussion Papers dp-05-36, Resources For the Future.
    6. Park, Sung Y. & Zhao, Guochang, 2010. "An estimation of U.S. gasoline demand: A smooth time-varying cointegration approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 110-120, January.
    7. Sofronis Clerides & Theodoros Zachariadis, 2006. "Are standards Effective in Improving Automobile Fuel Economy?," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 6-2006, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
    8. Burtraw, Dallas & Pizer, William & Harrington, Winston & Sanchirico, James & Newell, Richard, 2005. "Modeling Economywide versus Sectoral Climate Policies Using Combined Aggregate-Sectoral Models," Discussion Papers dp-05-08, Resources For the Future.
    9. Claudio Agostini, 2010. "Efectos del Diferencial de Impuestos a las Gasolinas en la Demanda de Automóviles," ILADES-Georgetown University Working Papers inv243, Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines.
    10. Austin, David & Dinan, Terry, 2005. "Clearing the air: The costs and consequences of higher CAFE standards and increased gasoline taxes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 562-582, November.
    11. Parry, Ian W.H., 2007. "Are the costs of reducing greenhouse gases from passenger vehicles negative?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 273-293, September.
    12. Agostini, Claudio, 2010. "Differential fuel taxes and their effects on automobile demand," Revista CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), December.
    13. Dongfeng Chang & Apostolos Serletis, 2014. "The Demand For Gasoline: Evidence From Household Survey Data," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(2), pages 291-313, March.
    14. Louis Kaplow, 2006. "Optimal Control of Externalities in the Presence of Income Taxation," NBER Working Papers 12339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Jean-Christophe Caffet, 2005. "Health effects and optimal environmental taxes in welfare state countries," Cahiers de la Maison des Sciences Economiques v05049, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1).
    16. Sarah E. West & Roberton C. Williams III, 2005. "The Cost of Reducing Gasoline Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 294-299, May.
    17. Eban Goodstein, 2003. "The Death of the Pigovian Tax? Policy Implications from the Double-Dividend Debate," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(3), pages 402-414.

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    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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