Energy efficiency standards are more regressive than energy taxes: theory and evidence

Thursday 10 May 2018, 18:00 - 19:00
Chemical Engineering - G35 (Y11 on campus map)

Economists promote energy taxes as cost-effective. But policymakers raise concerns about their disproportional burden on poorer families, preferring to set energy efficiency standards instead. Professor Arik Levinson will show that in theory, regulations targeting energy efficiency are more regressive than energy taxes, not less. He will then provide an example using data on automobiles in the United States. Taxing gas would be less regressive than regulating the fuel economy of cars if the two policies are compared on a revenue-equivalent basis.

About Professor Levinson

Arik Levinson is a Professor in the Economics Department of Georgetown University and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He has served as a Senior Economist on President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, as a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board, and as a co-editor of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management and the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.

Arik’s current research projects include a calculation of how the environmental consequences of American consumers’ choices have differed across income groups over time: (Environmental Engel Curves - PDF - 1MB); a comparison of energy taxes and efficiency standards (Energy Efficiency Standards are More Regressive than Energy Taxes: Theory and Evidence - PDF - 1MB); and an analysis of the redistributive consequences of electricity pricing (The Electric Gini).


For any enquiries please email Karen Dehal (

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