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Who Pays Cigarette Taxes? The Impact of Consumer Price Search

  • Philip DeCicca
  • Donald S. Kenkel
  • Feng Liu

We conduct an empirical study of the impact of consumer price-search on the shifting of cigarette excise taxes to consumer prices. We use novel data on the prices smokers report actually paying for cigarettes. We document substantial price dispersion. We find that cigarette taxes are shifted at lower rates to the prices paid by consumers who undertake more price search - carton buyers, and especially, smokers who buy cartons of cigarettes in a state other than their state of residence. We also find suggestive evidence that taxes are shifted at slightly higher rates to the prices paid by non-daily smokers, less addicted smokers, and smokers of light cigarettes.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15942.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15942.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Publication status: published as Philip DeCicca & Donald Kenkel & Feng Liu, 2013. "Who Pays Cigarette Taxes? The Impact of Consumer Price Search," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(2), pages 516-529, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15942
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  1. Saul Lach, 2002. "Existence and Persistence of Price Dispersion: an Empirical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 8737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Sophia Delipalla & Owen O'Donnell, 1999. "Estimating Tax Incidence, Market Power and Market Conduct: The European Cigarette Industry," Studies in Economics 9901, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  3. Hanson, Andrew & Sullivan, Ryan, 2009. "The Incidence of Tobacco Taxation: Evidence from Geographic Micro-Level Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 62(4), pages 677-98, December.
  4. Philip DeCicca & Donald S. Kenkel & Feng Liu, 2010. "Excise Tax Avoidance: The Case of State Cigarette Taxes," NBER Working Papers 15941, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. James J. Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2005. "Structural Equations, Treatment Effects and Econometric Policy Evaluation," NBER Technical Working Papers 0306, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Besley, Timothy, 1989. "Commodity taxation and imperfect competition : A note on the effects of entry," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 359-367, December.
  7. Keeler, Theodore E. & Hu, Teh-wei & Barnett, Paul G. & Manning, Willard G. & Sung, Hai-Yen, 1996. "Do cigarette producers price-discriminate by state? An empirical analysis of local cigarette pricing and taxation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 499-512, August.
  8. Gregory J. Colman & Dahlia K. Remler, 2008. "Vertical equity consequences of very high cigarette tax increases: If the poor are the ones smoking, how could cigarette tax increases be progressive?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(2), pages 376-400.
  9. Johnson, Terry R, 1978. "Additional Evidence on the Effects of Alternative Taxes on Cigarette Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(2), pages 325-28, April.
  10. Donald S. Kenkel, 2005. "Are Alcohol Tax Hikes Fully Passed Through to Prices? Evidence from Alaska," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 273-277, May.
  11. Philip DeCicca & Donald S. Kenkel & Alan D. Mathios & Yoon-Jeong Shin & Jae-Young Lim, 2006. "Youth Smoking, Cigarette Prices, and Anti-Smoking Sentiment," NBER Working Papers 12458, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Barzel, Yoram, 1976. "An Alternative Approach to the Analysis of Taxation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1177-97, December.
  13. James Alm & Edward Sennoga & Mark Skidmore, 2009. "Perfect Competition, Urbanization, And Tax Incidence In The Retail Gasoline Market," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(1), pages 118-134, 01.
  14. George J. Stigler, 1961. "The Economics of Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 213.
  15. Stern, Nicholas, 1987. "The effects of taxation, price control and government contracts in oligopoly and monopolistic competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 133-158, March.
  16. Andrew B. Lyon & Robert M. Schwab, 1991. "Consumption Taxes in a Life-Cycle Framework: Are Sin Taxes Regressive?," NBER Working Papers 3932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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