A Theory of Government Regulation of Addictive Bads: Optimal Tax Levels and Tax Incidence for Cigarette Excise Taxation
The traditional normative analysis of government policy towards addictive bads is carried out in the context of a 'rational addiction' model, whereby the only role for government is in correcting the external costs of consumption of such goods. But available evidence is at least as consistent, if not more so, with an alternative where individuals are 'time inconsistent' about decisions such as smoking, having a higher discount rate between this period and the next than between future periods. We develop this time inconsistent model, and show that this alternative formulation delivers radically different implications for government policy towards smoking. Unlike the traditional model, our alternative implies that there is a role for government taxation of addictive bads even if there are no external costs; we estimate that the optimal tax on cigarettes is $1 or more higher than that implied by the traditional model. And we estimate that cigarette excise taxes are much less regressive than previously believed, and indeed for most parameter values are progressive, since lower income groups are much more price elastic and therefore benefit more from the commitment device provided by higher excise taxes.
|Date of creation:||Feb 2002|
|Publication status:||published as Gruber, Jonathan and Botond Koszegi. "Tax Incidence When Individuals Are Time-Inconsistent: The Case Of Cigarette Excise Taxes," Journal of Public Economics, 2004, v88(9-10,Aug), 1959-1987.|
|Note:||CH HE PE|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Poterba, James M, 1989.
"Lifetime Incidence and the Distributional Burden of Excise Taxes,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 325-330, May.
- Poterba, J.M., 1989. "Lifetime Incidence And The Distributional Burden Of Excise Taxes," Working papers 510, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- James M. Poterba, 1989. "Lifetime Incidence and the Distributional Burden of Excise Taxes," NBER Working Papers 2833, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
- Viscusi, W Kip & Evans, William N, 1990. "Utility Functions That Depend on Health Status: Estimates and Economic Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 353-374, June.
- Gruber Jonathan H & Mullainathan Sendhil, 2005. "Do Cigarette Taxes Make Smokers Happier," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-45, July.
- Jonathan Gruber & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "Do Cigarette Taxes Make Smokers Happier?," NBER Working Papers 8872, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- William N. Evans & Jeanne S. Ringel & Diana Stech, 1999. "Tobacco Taxes and Public Policy to Discourage Smoking," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 13, pages 1-56 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- W. Kip Viscusi & Joni Hersch, 2001. "Cigarette Smokers As Job Risk Takers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 269-280, May. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)