ارزیابی دوباره نقش استانداردهای بهره وری مصرف انرژی : رویکرد اقتصاد رفتاری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|6799||2013||14 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||11458 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Available online 2 May 2013
The economic models that prescribe Pigovian taxation as the first-best means of reducing energy-related externalities are typically based on the neoclassical model of rational consumer choice. Yet, consumer behavior in markets for energy-using durables is generally thought to be far from efficient, giving rise to the concept of the “energy-efficiency gap.” This paper presents a welfare analysis of energy policies that is based on a behavioral model of temptation and self-control, introduced by Gul and Pesendorfer  and . We find that, in the presence of temptation, (i) Pigovian taxes alone do not yield a first-best outcome, (ii) when viewed as substitutes, energy efficiency standards can dominate Pigovian taxes, and (iii) a policy combining standards with a Pigovian tax can yield higher social welfare than a Pigovian tax alone, implying that the two instruments should be viewed as complements rather than substitutes.
The importance of reducing energy use has been widely acknowledged as a means for both meeting future energy needs and addressing environmental problems. Historically, the U.S. and many other countries have relied heavily on energy efficiency standards to reduce energy consumption. Examples include the appliance standards developed and enforced by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the minimum efficiency standard for light bulbs recently established by the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act. While commonly used, energy efficiency standards have been widely criticized by economists, who have long argued that the first-best policy for reducing the externalities that result from energy use is a Pigovian tax on energy consumption. Among recent papers, Linares and Labandeira , Parry et al. , and Anderson et al.  discuss the advantages of implementing energy taxes over efficiency standards. Arguments against the use of standards include the existence of a “rebound effect”  and  and the inefficiency induced when a uniform standard is imposed on heterogeneous consumers . The argument that taxes are superior to energy efficiency standards is typically based on the neoclassical model of rational consumer choice, which assumes that, when faced with proper price signals, consumers will make efficient choices. Yet, observed consumer behavior with regards to energy use and the purchase of energy-using durable goods is often thought to be far from efficient, giving rise to the concept of the “energy-efficiency gap.” In particular, the individual discount rates that would make the observed purchases of energy-using durable products economically rational in the absence of market failures tend to be excessively high.1 There is a large body of literature that seeks to explain this puzzling behavior. One explanation is that inefficient purchases could stem from consumers undervaluing future energy costs.2 For example, McManus , Fan and Rubin , and Allcott and Wozny  provide evidence that consumers undervalue future fuel costs when purchasing automobiles.3 This type of behavior can arise when individuals exhibit a rate of time preference that declines with time (e.g., ),4 which can be modeled formally through preferences that exhibit hyperbolic or quasi-hyperbolic discounting ,  and . These represent a formalization of the preference structure originally introduced by Strotz , under which the agent's preferences differ across periods and in each period the agent can be viewed as a separate “self” choosing current behavior to maximize current preferences. As a result, agents have different preference orderings at different points in time, implying time inconsistency (e.g., ).5 This poses a challenge to the traditional welfare analysis based on the revealed preference approach, since in the presence of time inconsistency there is no universally accepted welfare criterion based on consumer sovereignty to use in evaluating alternative outcomes ,  and . For finite decision problems, the above models of time-varying preferences can be viewed as preference structures under which individuals face temptation and always give into it  and . Gul and Pesendorfer  and  present a more general model of temptation that allows for the possibility that individuals will resist temptation (albeit at a cost). In contrast to the hyperbolic and quasi-hyperbolic preference structures, agents with Gul and Pesendorfer preferences do not have different “selves” at different times. Rather, at each point in time individuals rationally (and consistently) choose among alternatives, recognizing that they will incur disutility (i.e., self-control costs) if they resist temptation. This yields a set of time-consistent preferences in the presence of temptation that allows for both succumbing to and resisting temptation as possible choice outcomes. People may face temptation in a variety of decision contexts. For instance, the existing evidence shows that individuals experience self-control problems due to their tendency to pursue immediate gratification , ,  and . A key behavioral implication of temptation is that consumers may actually prefer to restrict their choices so as to avoid the temptation that short-term gains create in some contexts. For example, illiquid assets (e.g., housing, IRAs, etc.) and social security serve to reduce the temptation of immediate consumption . Alternatively, some people achieve commitment through self-imposed restrictions, such as rationing purchases of tempting goods even when they are sold with quantity discounts , avoiding visits to restaurants offering unhealthy food , or self-imposing earlier deadlines than necessary for class assignments . There is an extensive literature demonstrating that people often have a preference for commitment (see, for example,  and  for surveys of this literature). Such preferences can have important policy implications.6 In this paper, we use an adaptation of the Gul–Pesendorfer model of temptation to evaluate policies used to improve energy efficiency, including energy efficiency standards, Pigovian energy taxes, and product subsidies or taxes. We model consumers' purchase decisions in markets for energy-using durable goods, where a less energy-efficient product with a low purchase price appears “tempting”, in spite of its relatively high use costs that will be incurred in the future.7 While some people may overcome this temptation and in the process incur a self-control cost, there are others who succumb to it and make decisions that could be ex-ante inefficient.8 We suggest that product price-driven temptation can be another possible factor contributing to the energy-efficiency gap. To our knowledge, we are the first to suggest this. Furthermore, the preference for choice restriction that some consumers exhibit when faced with temptation may have significant policy implications. For example, energy efficiency standards that eliminate the possibility and hence the temptation to buy cheap but energy-inefficient goods could be used as a commitment device9 to address inefficiencies in consumer choice that stem from temptation.10 This implies a potentially important role for energy efficiency standards. Of course, any benefit from using standards as a commitment device must be weighed against losses that can arise from other considerations, such as consumer heterogeneity. In the presence of heterogeneity, the purchase of cheap but energy-inefficient goods is sometimes efficient (e.g., for low use consumers), implying that, ceteris paribus, the elimination of this option generates a welfare loss. In our model, we incorporate both temptation and heterogeneity in use and identify the potential tradeoff that arises. We consider two policy roles for efficiency standards: as substitutes for energy taxes and as their complements. Our main results can be summarized as follows. In the presence of temptation, (i) Pigovian taxes alone do not yield a first-best outcome, (ii) when viewed as substitutes, a standard (which we model as a ban on an inefficient product) can under some conditions yield higher welfare than a Pigovian tax, and (iii) a policy that combines standards with a Pigovian tax can yield higher social welfare than a Pigovian tax alone, implying that the two instruments should be viewed as potential complements rather than substitutes.11 Furthermore, with a Pigovian tax in place, a product subsidy or tax that reduces (but does not eliminate) the product price disparity does not necessarily yield higher welfare than a standard, while a product subsidy or tax that equalizes the effective product prices is identical to the standard. The rest of the paper is structured as follows. Section 2 reviews the Gul–Pesendorfer model. Section 3 presents an adaptation of the Gul–Pesendorfer model to the context of the purchase of energy-using products. Section 4 examines consumer choices in the absence of policy intervention, and Section 5 describes the first-best choices. Section 6 analyzes the welfare implications of three different policy scenarios: an energy tax, an energy efficiency standard, and a combination of the two. Section 7 extends the analysis to incorporate product subsidies or taxes in place of standards. Section 8 discusses the relevance of our findings and presents some recommendations for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This paper explores a potential contributing factor behind the energy-efficiency gap, namely, the possibility that consumers are “tempted” by the low purchase price of products with low energy efficiency and hence sometimes purchase these products even when it is not in their interest to do so. We model this behavior by adapting the framework of temptation and self-control introduced by Gul and Pesendorfer  and . Since in this framework consumer preferences are time-consistent, the model allows for clear comparisons of social welfare under alternative policies that could be used to address the distortions that result from pollution and temptation. We find that, although welfare-improving, a Pigovian tax is not a first-best instrument in markets where consumers are “tempted” by the low purchase price of the less energy-efficient product. In the presence of temptation in these markets, there exists the potential for using energy efficiency standards as a commitment device. We explore the implications of using standards either as substitutes or complements for taxes. When used as substitutes, a standard can under some conditions result in greater social welfare than a Pigovian tax alone. On the other hand, a policy that combines standards with taxes can dominate a Pigovian tax alone and may even lead to a first-best outcome. Our results therefore suggest that, given that the current policy in the U.S. and many other countries relies heavily on efficiency standards, rather than replacing these standards with taxes as the existing literature prescribes, policymakers could potentially achieve greater social welfare by using the two instruments as complements. Finally, we find that when consumer decisions are affected by temptation, product subsidies/taxes do not necessarily dominate efficiency standards. While we believe that our analysis provides useful insight into the potential role of energy efficiency standards, we recognize that it does not incorporate all potentially important dimensions of this question. For example, it does not directly address the fact that, in practice, it might be much easier to apply a tax across all uses of energy (residential, commercial, and industrial) than to apply standards on all energy-using durables (see, for example, ). Therefore, the results from our analysis should be interpreted as applying to products that can be regulated, assuming that substitution from regulated to unregulated products is not substantial. Similarly, our study focuses only on the demand for products, assuming that they differ only in their price and energy efficiency, and we model energy efficiency standards as minimum efficiency standards. Further extensions to our framework could involve modeling use benefits as dependent on the product type (thus exploring the role of quality-efficiency tradeoffs on consumer choice), adding a supply side to the model (along with potential supply-related market failures), and introducing average efficiency standards (rather than a ban on the inefficient product) among the policy options. While inclusion of these additional features would make our analysis richer, we believe that they would not change our fundamental message, namely, if consumers are tempted by low purchase prices when buying energy-using durables, then energy efficiency standards may have a role to play as a commitment device, and, if temptation and/or environmental damages are sufficiently high, coupling a Pigovian tax with an energy efficiency standard may yield higher welfare than a Pigovian tax alone.