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

Listed author(s):
  • Hunt Allcott
  • Christopher Knittel

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23076.

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Date of creation: Jan 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23076
Note: PE EEE
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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.
  2. Hainmueller, Jens, 2012. "Entropy Balancing for Causal Effects: A Multivariate Reweighting Method to Produce Balanced Samples in Observational Studies," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(01), pages 25-46, December.
  3. Meghan R. Busse & Christopher R. Knittel & Florian Zettelmeyer, 2013. "Are Consumers Myopic? Evidence from New and Used Car Purchases," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 220-256, February.
  4. Mathias Reynaert & James M. Sallee, 2016. "Corrective Policy and Goodhart's Law: The Case of Carbon Emissions from Automobiles," NBER Working Papers 22911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Jin, Ginger Zhe & Sorensen, Alan T., 2006. "Information and consumer choice: The value of publicized health plan ratings," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 248-275, March.
  7. 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.
  8. Richard G. Newell & Juha Siikamäki, 2014. "Nudging Energy Efficiency Behavior: The Role of Information Labels," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(4), pages 555-598.
  9. Sendhil Mullainathan & Joshua Schwartzstein & William J. Congdon, 2012. "A Reduced-Form Approach to Behavioral Public Finance," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 511-540, 07.
  10. 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).
  11. 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.
  12. Saurabh Bhargava & Dayanand Manoli, 2015. "Psychological Frictions and the Incomplete Take-Up of Social Benefits: Evidence from an IRS Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(11), pages 3489-3529, November.
  13. Austin, David & Dinan, Terry, 2005. "Clearing the air: The costs and consequences of higher CAFE standards and increased gasoline taxes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 562-582, November.
  14. Hunt Allcott, 2013. "The Welfare Effects of Misperceived Product Costs: Data and Calibrations from the Automobile Market," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 30-66, August.
  15. Grigolon, Laura & Reynaert, Mathias & Verboven, Frank, 2014. "Consumer valuation of fuel costs and the effectiveness of tax policy: Evidence from the European car market," CEPR Discussion Papers 10301, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Katrina Jessoe & David Rapson, 2015. "Commercial and Industrial Demand Response Under Mandatory Time-of-Use Electricity Pricing," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(3), pages 397-421, 09.
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