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Designing Policies to Make Cars Greener: A Review of the Literature

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  • Soren T. Anderson
  • James M. Sallee

Abstract

We review what is known about the economic efficiency of fuel taxes relative to efficiency standards aimed at mitigating environmental externalities from automobiles. We present a simplified model of car choice that allows us to emphasize the relationships between fuel economy, other car attributes, and miles traveled. We focus on greenhouse gas emissions, although we note how other environmental externalities affect our conclusions. Our main conclusion—that standards are substantially less efficient than a fuel tax—is already familiar. Less familiar are points we make about the relative importance of the rebound effect, on the effects of attribute-based policies, and the implications of behavioral biases. We point to areas where we believe future research can have the greatest contribution, including work on uncertainty, heterogeneity, and empirical work in low and middle-income countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Soren T. Anderson & James M. Sallee, 2016. "Designing Policies to Make Cars Greener: A Review of the Literature," NBER Working Papers 22242, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22242
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ting Zhao, 2018. "Research on the Impact of the Price Adjustment of Refined Oil on Air Quality: Taking Hebei Province as an Example," International Journal of Economics and Finance, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 10(7), pages 1-72, July.
    2. Kellogg, Ryan, 2020. "Output and attribute-based carbon regulation under uncertainty," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 190(C).
    3. Arik Levinson, 2019. "Energy Efficiency Standards Are More Regressive Than Energy Taxes: Theory and Evidence," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(S1), pages 7-36.
    4. Tanaka, Shinsuke, 2020. "When tax incentives drive illicit behavior: The manipulation of fuel economy in the automobile industry," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 104(C).
    5. Kellogg, Ryan, 2018. "Gasoline price uncertainty and the design of fuel economy standards," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 14-32.
    6. Edenhofer, Ottmar & Flachsland, Christian & Kalkuhl, Matthias & Knopf, Brigitte & Pahle, Michael, 2019. "Optionen für eine CO2-Preisreform," Working Papers 04/2019, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung.
    7. Rahmati, Mohammad Hossein & Tavakoli, Amirhossein & Vesal, Mohammad, 2019. "What do one hundred million transactions tell us about demand elasticity of gasoline?," MPRA Paper 97858, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. West, Jeremy & Hoekstra, Mark & Meer, Jonathan & Puller, Steven L., 2017. "Vehicle miles (not) traveled: Fuel economy requirements, vehicle characteristics, and household driving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 65-81.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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