Excise Taxation and Product Quality: The Gasoline Market
Following Barzel (1976), product quality increases in response to unit taxation but remains unchanged by ad valorem taxation. While many tax theorists agree this argument is theoretically sound, empirical support of Barzel’s theory is limited to the cigarette market. This paper tests and confirms his theory in the gasoline market, a market in which Barzel failed to find supporting evidence in his original article. Using a direct test proposed by Sobel and Garrett (1997) and improved data, I find the market shares of premium and mid-grade gasoline rise in response to per-unit taxation but are unaffected by advalorem taxation.
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- Leffler, Keith B, 1982. "Ambiguous Changes in Product Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 956-67, December.
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- Barzel, Yoram, 1976. "An Alternative Approach to the Analysis of Taxation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1177-97, December.
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- Umbeck, John, 1980. "Shipping the Good Apples Out: Some Ambiguities in the Interpretation of "Fixed Charge"," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 199-208, February.
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