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Price Uncertainty, Tax Policy, and Addiction: Evidence and Implications

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  • Mark Coppejans
  • Holger Sieg

Abstract

Consumption of addictive goods is subject to habit formation. Forward-looking individuals must, therefore, be concerned about future prices when making current consumption decisions. We study prices for tobacco products based on a unique data set provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Our empirical findings suggest that prices have been highly volatile during the past decade. Price uncertainty has a potentially large impact on the economic well-being of young individuals with relatively low levels of disposable income. We develop a model to study consumption of addictive substances under price uncertainty. Our results indicate that optimal decision rules of low income individuals can crucially depend on subjective beliefs about future prices and the length of the planning horizon. These results imply that tax policies are most effective in reducing teenage cigarette consumption if they credibly alter individuals' beliefs about future prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Coppejans & Holger Sieg, 2002. "Price Uncertainty, Tax Policy, and Addiction: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 9073, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9073
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hansen, Bruce E, 1992. "The Likelihood Ratio Test under Nonstandard Conditions: Testing the Markov Switching Model of GNP," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 7(S), pages 61-82, Suppl. De.
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    3. Chaloupka, Frank J. & Warner, Kenneth E., 2000. "The economics of smoking," Handbook of Health Economics,in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 29, pages 1539-1627 Elsevier.
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    5. Orphanides, Athanasios & Zervos, David, 1995. "Rational Addiction with Learning and Regret," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 739-758, August.
    6. Becker, Gary S & Grossman, Michael & Murphy, Kevin M, 1994. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 396-418, June.
    7. Becker, Gary S & Grossman, Michael & Murphy, Kevin M, 1991. "Rational Addiction and the Effect of Price on Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 237-241, May.
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    10. Gerald E. Auten & Holger Sieg & Charles T. Clotfelter, 2002. "Charitable Giving, Income, and Taxes: An Analysis of Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 371-382, March.
    11. Hamilton, James D., 1990. "Analysis of time series subject to changes in regime," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1-2), pages 39-70.
    12. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Köszegi, 2001. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1261-1303.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C8 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty

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