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Rationing can backfire : the day without a car in Mexico City


  • Eskeland, Gunnar S.
  • Feyzioglu, Tarhan


In November 1989, Mexico City's administration imposed a regulation banning each car from driving on a specific day of the week. The regulation has been both popular and controversial. Some feel that it is a reasonable concession aimed at alleviating congestion and pollution problems. Others feel it is both inefficient and unfair: inefficient in the way most rationing systems are inefficent, and unfair in that it is costly to some and easily avoided or accommodated by others. Some feel that it may also be so inefficient that it is counterproductive. The authors found evidence to support that view. Many households bought an additional car to get additional driving permits, and the amount of driving increased. Greater use of old cars and increased weekend driving may have contributed to the disappointing results of Mexico's one-day ban on driving: high welfare costs and none of the intended benefits.

Suggested Citation

  • Eskeland, Gunnar S. & Feyzioglu, Tarhan, 1995. "Rationing can backfire : the day without a car in Mexico City," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1554, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1554

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eskeland, Gunnar S, 1994. "A Presumptive Pigovian Tax: Complementing Regulation to Mimic an Emissions Fee," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(3), pages 373-394, September.
    2. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    3. Berndt, Ernst R. & Botero, German, 1985. "Energy demand in the transportation sector of Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 219-238, April.
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