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Price isn't everything : behavioral response around changes in sin taxes

Author: Alex Rees-Jones; Kyle Rozema; National Bureau of Economic Research,
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2019.
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 25958.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : English
Summary:
Taxes change behavior. But how does this change arise? In traditional economic models, change is achieved through the price channel: assuming all else is held constant, taxes increase prices and thus decrease demand. However, the assumption that all else is held constant may be violated in the course of a legal change, in part because the process by which laws are changed often involves the provision of information,  Read more...
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Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Alex Rees-Jones; Kyle Rozema; National Bureau of Economic Research,
OCLC Number: 1105584949
Notes: "June 2019"
Description: 1 online resource (49 pages) : illustrations.
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 25958.
Responsibility: Alex Rees-Jones, Kyle T. Rozema.

Abstract:

Taxes change behavior. But how does this change arise? In traditional economic models, change is achieved through the price channel: assuming all else is held constant, taxes increase prices and thus decrease demand. However, the assumption that all else is held constant may be violated in the course of a legal change, in part because the process by which laws are changed often involves the provision of information, attempts at persuasion, and the deployment of alternative dissuasive tools. We examine violations of this assumption in a particular policy domain: discouraging smoking with cigarette taxes. We document a marked increase in related media coverage, lobbying efforts, place-based smoking restrictions, and anti-smoking appropriations in the time period surrounding a tax law change. The intensity of these factors is directly associated with decreases in cigarette consumption in a manner that could be confused with price effects. Our results suggest that price effects may have a surprisingly small role in the behavioral response that occurs around tax law changes.

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