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Who Pays a Price on Carbon?

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  • Corbett A. Grainger
  • Charles D. Kolstad

Abstract

We use the 2003 Consumer Expenditure Survey and emissions estimates from an input-output model to estimate the incidence of a price on carbon induced by a cap-and-trade program or carbon tax in the US context. We present results on how much difference income deciles pay for a carbon tax as well as which industries see the largest increase in costs due to a carbon tax. We illustrate the main determinant of the regressivity: consumption patterns for energy-intensive goods. We find that a policy targeting CO2 from energy consumption is more regressive than a price on all emissions. Furthermore, on a per-capita basis a carbon price is much more regressive than calculations at the household level. We discuss policy options to offset the adverse distributional effects of a carbon emissions policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Corbett A. Grainger & Charles D. Kolstad, 2009. "Who Pays a Price on Carbon?," NBER Working Papers 15239, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15239
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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