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Rational Addiction, Peer Externalities and Long Run Effects of Public Policy

  • Donald S. Kenkel
  • Robert R. Reed III
  • Ping Wang

The main purpose of this research is to understand the patterns of consumption of addictive goods, their economic and welfare consequences for society and the long-run effect of tax policy in a dynamic general equilibrium model of rational addiction. In contrast to prior research, we allow individuals to make their consumption decisions simultaneous with savings and labor supply. When addictive goods have a stronger habit formation effect (an addiction effect'), individuals choose to save less due to the anticipated adverse health consequences of addiction (a detrimental health effect'). This is particularly important since total savings pins down future productivity in the economy. We also consider the role of peer influence in the choice of addiction and find that more peer pressure' raises addictive consumption, lowers savings and reduces productivity. In light of the various distortions associated with addiction, we conclude by studying the long-run effects of an excise tax on addictive goods. Our calibration exercises suggest that incorporating capital formation and peer effects in a model of rational addiction are crucial for the design of public policy. In particular, accounting for peer externalities increases the optimal sin tax rate by more than 50 percent.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9249.

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Date of creation: Oct 2002
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9249
Note: HE
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  1. Orphanides, Athanasios & Zervos, David, 1995. "Rational Addiction with Learning and Regret," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 739-58, August.
  2. Edward C. Norton & Richard C. Lindrooth & Susan T. Ennett, 1998. "Controlling for the endogeneity of peer substance use on adolescent alcohol and tobacco use," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 7(5), pages 439-453.
  3. Donald S. Kenkel & Ping Wang, 1999. "Are Alcoholics in Bad Jobs?," NBER Chapters, in: The Economic Analysis of Substance Use and Abuse: An Integration of Econometrics and Behavioral Economic Research, pages 251-278 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Bryan Graham, 2002. "Longevity and Life Cycle Savings," NBER Working Papers 8808, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Stewart, Jennifer M., 2001. "The impact of health status on the duration of unemployment spells and the implications for studies of the impact of unemployment on health status," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 781-796, September.
  6. Jones, Andrew M., 1994. "Health, addiction, social interaction and the decision to quit smoking," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 93-110, March.
  7. Kenkel, Donald S., 1993. "Do drunk drivers pay their way? a note on optimal penalties for drunk driving," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 137-149, July.
  8. Laux, Fritz L., 2000. "Addiction as a market failure: using rational addiction results to justify tobacco regulation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 421-437, July.
  9. Mullahy, John & Sindelar, Jody L, 1991. "Gender Differences in Labor Market Effects of Alcoholism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 161-65, May.
  10. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Koszegi, 2002. "A Theory of Government Regulation of Addictive Bads: Optimal Tax Levels and Tax Incidence for Cigarette Excise Taxation," NBER Working Papers 8777, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
  12. Gary S. Becker & Michael Grossman & Kevin M. Murphy, 1990. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," NBER Working Papers 3322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Philip DeCicca & Donald Kenkel & Alan Mathios, 2002. "Putting Out the Fires: Will Higher Taxes Reduce the Onset of Youth Smoking?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 144-169, February.
  14. Cook, Philip J. & Moore, Michael J., 1994. "This Tax's for You: The Case for Higher Beer Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(3), pages 559-73, September.
  15. 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.
  16. W. Kip Viscusi, 1995. "Cigarette Taxation and the Social Consequences of Smoking," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 9, pages 51-102 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Kenkel, Donald S, 1991. "Health Behavior, Health Knowledge, and Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 287-305, April.
  18. Mullahy, John & Sindelar, Jody L, 1993. "Alcoholism, Work, and Income," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 494-520, July.
  19. Pogue, Thomas F & Sgontz, Larry G, 1989. "Taxing to Control Social Costs: The Case of Alcohol," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 235-43, March.
  20. Markowitz, Sara & Grossman, Michael, 2000. "The effects of beer taxes on physical child abuse," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 271-282, March.
  21. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
  22. Cook, Philip J. & Moore, Michael J., 1993. "Drinking and schooling," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 411-429, December.
  23. Manning, Willard G. & Blumberg, Linda & Moulton, Lawrence H., 1995. "The demand for alcohol: The differential response to price," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 123-148, June.
  24. DeCicca, Philip & Kenkel, Donald & Mathios, Alan, 2000. " Racial Difference in the Determinants of Smoking Onset," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 21(2-3), pages 311-40, November.
  25. Kenkel, Donald S, 1996. "New Estimates of the Optimal Tax on Alcohol," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(2), pages 296-319, April.
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