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Empirical Estimates for Environmental Policy Making in a Second- Best Setting

  • Sarah E. West

    (Macalester College)

  • Roberton C. Williams III

    (University of Texas at Austin & NBER)

This study estimates parameters necessary to calculate the optimal second-best gasoline tax, most notably the cross-price elasticity between gasoline and leisure. Prior work indicates that in a second-best setting with distortionary income taxes, both the cost of environmental regulation and the optimal environmental tax rate depend crucially on the cross-price elasticity between a polluting good and leisure. However, no prior study on second-best environmental regulation has estimated this elasticity. Using household data, we find that gasoline is a relative complement to leisure, and thus that the optimal gasoline tax is significantly higher than marginal damages–the opposite of the result suggested by the prior literature. Following this approach to estimate cross-price elasticities with leisure for other major polluting goods could strongly influence estimates of optimal environmental taxes.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/pe/papers/0402/0402005.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 0402005.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 16 Feb 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0402005
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 36; figures: none
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Charles Ballard & John Goddeeris & Sang-Kyum Kim, 2005. "Non-Homothetic Preferences and the Non-Environmental Effects of Environmental Taxes," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 115-130, March.
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  3. Bovenberg, A Lans & de Mooij, Ruud A, 1997. "Environmental Levies and Distortionary Taxation: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 252-53, March.
  4. Bovenberg, A.L. & van der Ploeg, F., 1994. "Green policies in a small open economy," Other publications TiSEM 31842095-d9e5-4693-ab81-4, School of Economics and Management.
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  6. Burtraw, Dallas & Parry, Ian & Goulder, Lawrence & Williams III, Roberton, 1998. "The Cost-Effectiveness of Alternative Instruments for Environmental Protection in a Second-Best Setting," Discussion Papers dp-98-22, Resources For the Future.
  7. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-26, June.
  8. Lawrence H. Goulder & Roberton C. Williams III, 2003. "The Substantial Bias from Ignoring General Equilibrium Effects in Estimating Excess Burden, and a Practical Solution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 898-927, August.
  9. Ian W. H. Parry & Roberton C. Williams III & Lawrence H. Goulder, 1997. "When Can Carbon Abatement Policies Increase Welfare? The Fundamental Role of Distorted Factor Markets," NBER Working Papers 5967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Bovenberg, A Lans & van der Ploeg, Frederick, 1994. " Green Policies and Public Finance in a Small Open Economy," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 96(3), pages 343-63.
  11. Browning, Martin & Meghir, Costas, 1991. "The Effects of Male and Female Labor Supply on Commodity Demands," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(4), pages 925-51, July.
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  17. Parry Ian W. H., 1995. "Pollution Taxes and Revenue Recycling," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages S64-S77, November.
  18. Ian W.H. Parry, 1999. "Agricultural Policies in the Presence of Distorting Taxes," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(1), pages 212-230.
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  24. Williams III, Roberton C., 1999. "Revisiting the cost of protectionism:: The role of tax distortions in the labor market," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 429-447, April.
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  27. Moschini, GianCarlo, 1995. "Units of Measurement and the 'Stone Index' In Demand System Estimation," Staff General Research Papers 5058, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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  36. West, Sarah E., 2004. "Distributional effects of alternative vehicle pollution control policies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 735-757, March.
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