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Evidence of a Shift in the Short-Run Price Elasticity of Gasoline Demand

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  • Jonathan E. Hughes
  • Christopher R. Knittel
  • Daniel Sperling

Abstract

Understanding the sensitivity of gasoline demand to changes in prices and income has important implications for policies related to climate change, optimal taxation and national security, to name only a few. While the short-run price and income elasticities of gasoline demand in the United States have been studied extensively, the vast majority of these studies focus on consumer behavior in the 1970s and 1980s. There are a number of reasons to believe that current demand elasticities differ from these previous periods, as transportation analysts have hypothesized that behavioral and structural factors over the past several decades have changed the responsiveness of U.S. consumers to changes in gasoline prices. In this paper, we compare the price and income elasticities of gasoline demand in two periods of similarly high prices from 1975 to 1980 and 2001 to 2006. The short-run price elasticities differ considerably: and range from -0.034 to -0.077 during 2001 to 2006, versus -0.21 to -0.34 for 1975 to 1980. The estimated short-run income elasticities range from 0.21 to 0.75 and when estimated with the same models are not significantly different between the two periods.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan E. Hughes & Christopher R. Knittel & Daniel Sperling, 2006. "Evidence of a Shift in the Short-Run Price Elasticity of Gasoline Demand," NBER Working Papers 12530, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12530
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • L91 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Transportation: General
    • Q31 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • R40 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - General
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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