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One Markup to Rule Them All: Taxation by Liquor Pricing Regulation

Author

Listed:
  • Eugenio Miravete

    (University of Texas at Austin)

  • Jeffrey Thurk

    (University of Notre Dame)

  • Katja Seim

    (University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

Government often chooses simple rules to regulate industry even when firms and consumers are heterogeneous. We show this practice is sub-optimal for a large class of empirically-relevant consumer preferences. We evaluate the implications of in the context of alcohol pricing where the regulator uses a single markup rule that does not vary across products. We estimate an equilibrium model of wholesale pricing and retail demand for horizontally differentiated spirits that allows for heterogeneity in consumer preferences based on observable demographics. We show that the single markup increases market power among upstream firms, particularly small firms whose portfolios are better positioned to take advantage of the policy. For consumers, the single markup acts as a progressive tax by overpricing products favored by the rich. It also decreases aggregate consumer welfare though $16.7\%$ of consumers are better off under the policy. These consumers tend to be older, less wealthy or educated, and minorities. Simple policies therefore generate significant cross-subsidies and may be an effective tool for government to garner favor of key constituencies.

Suggested Citation

  • Eugenio Miravete & Jeffrey Thurk & Katja Seim, 2018. "One Markup to Rule Them All: Taxation by Liquor Pricing Regulation," 2018 Meeting Papers 611, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed018:611
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cerdá, Magdalena & Johnson-Lawrence, Vicki D. & Galea, Sandro, 2011. "Lifetime income patterns and alcohol consumption: Investigating the association between long- and short-term income trajectories and drinking," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(8), pages 1178-1185.
    2. repec:aea:aejmic:v:11:y:2019:i:1:p:124-56 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Meng, Yang & Brennan, Alan & Purshouse, Robin & Hill-McManus, Daniel & Angus, Colin & Holmes, John & Meier, Petra Sylvia, 2014. "Estimation of own and cross price elasticities of alcohol demand in the UK—A pseudo-panel approach using the Living Costs and Food Survey 2001–2009," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 96-103.
    4. Sofia Berto Villas-Boas, 2007. "Vertical Relationships between Manufacturers and Retailers: Inference with Limited Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 625-652.
    5. Waldfogel, Joel, 2003. " Preference Externalities: An Empirical Study of Who Benefits Whom in Differentiated-Product Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(3), pages 557-568, Autumn.
    6. repec:wly:emetrp:v:86:y:2018:i:5:p:1651-1687 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Brian Adams & Kevin R. Williams, 2019. "Zone Pricing in Retail Oligopoly," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 124-156, February.
    8. Emmanuel Saez, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(1), pages 205-229.
    9. Rachel Griffith & Martin O'Connell & Kate Smith, 2017. "Design of optimal corrective taxes in the alcohol market," IFS Working Papers W17/02, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    10. Ben Shiller & Joel Waldfogel, 2011. "Music for a Song: An Empirical Look at Uniform Pricing and Its Alternatives," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(4), pages 630-660, December.
    11. Katja Seim & Joel Waldfogel, 2013. "Public Monopoly and Economic Efficiency: Evidence from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's Entry Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(2), pages 831-862, April.
    12. Eugenio J. Miravete & Katja Seim & Jeff Thurk, 2018. "Market Power and the Laffer Curve," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 86(5), pages 1651-1687, September.
    13. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 1993. "A Theory of Incentives in Procurement and Regulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121743.
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    1. repec:wly:emetrp:v:86:y:2018:i:5:p:1651-1687 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:eee:pubeco:v:172:y:2019:i:c:p:20-35 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Griffith, Rachel & O’Connell, Martin & Smith, Kate, 2019. "Tax design in the alcohol market," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 172(C), pages 20-35.
    4. Eugenio J. Miravete & Katja Seim & Jeff Thurk, 2018. "Market Power and the Laffer Curve," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 86(5), pages 1651-1687, September.
    5. repec:kap:regeco:v:54:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11149-018-9361-2 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • L43 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Legal Monopolies and Regulation or Deregulation
    • L66 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Food; Beverages; Cosmetics; Tobacco

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