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Fuel Consumption and Gasoline Prices: The Role of Assortative Matching between Households and Automobiles

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Document pages: 60 pages

Abstract: Analyses of policies to reduce gasoline consumption have focused on two effects, a compositional effect on the fuel economy of the automotive fleet and a utilization effect on how much people drive. However, the literature has missed a third effect: a matching effect, in which the policy changes how high-utilization households are matched to fuel-efficient vehicles in equilibrium. We show that higher gas prices should lead to stronger assortative matching. Empirical estimates using US micro-level data are consistent with this hypothesis. We find a $1 gas tax would reduce US gas consumption by 1.5 through the matching effect alone.

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