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Are Consumers Poorly Informed about Fuel Economy? Evidence from Two Experiments

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  • Hunt Allcott
  • Christopher Knittel

Abstract

It is often asserted that consumers are poorly informed about and inattentive to fuel economy, causing them to buy low-fuel economy vehicles despite their own best interest. This paper presents evidence on this assertion through two experiments providing fuel economy information to new vehicle shoppers. Results show zero statistical or economic effect on average fuel economy of vehicles purchased. In the context of a simple optimal policy model, the estimates suggest that current and proposed U.S. fuel economy standards are significantly more stringent than needed to address the classes of imperfect information and inattention addressed by our interventions.

Suggested Citation

  • Hunt Allcott & Christopher Knittel, 2017. "Are Consumers Poorly Informed about Fuel Economy? Evidence from Two Experiments," NBER Working Papers 23076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23076
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lucas W. Davis & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2016. "Does Better Information Lead to Better Choices? Evidence from Energy-Efficiency Labels," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 589-625.
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    4. Hunt Allcott & Richard Sweeney, 2014. "The Role of Sales Agents in Information Disclosure: Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 20048, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    6. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 815-842.
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    9. ITO Koichiro & James M. SALLEE, 2014. "The Economics of Attribute-Based Regulation: Theory and evidence from fuel-economy standards," Discussion papers 14057, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    10. Pascaline Dupas, 2011. "Do Teenagers Respond to HIV Risk Information? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 1-34, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:ecolec:v:144:y:2018:i:c:p:112-123 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Houde, Sebastien & Aldy, Joseph E., 2017. "The Efficiency Consequences of Heterogeneous Behavioral Responses to Energy Fiscal Policies," Working Paper Series rwp17-047, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    3. Ghislaine Lang & Bruno Lanz, 2018. "Energy efficiency, information, and the acceptability of rent increases: A multiple price list experiment with tenants," IRENE Working Papers 18-04, IRENE Institute of Economic Research.
    4. Sébastien Houde & Joseph E. Aldy, 2017. "The Efficiency Consequences of Heterogeneous Behavioral Responses to Energy Fiscal Policies," NBER Working Papers 24103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L91 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Transportation: General
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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