NBER Publications by Kyle C. Meng

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Working Papers and Chapters and Reporter Articles

August 2016Estimating Path Dependence in Energy Transitions
Addressing climate change requires transitioning away from coal-based energy. Recent structural change models demonstrate that temporary interventions could induce permanent fuel switching when transitional dynamics exhibit strong path dependence. Exploiting changes in local coal supply driven by subsurface coal accessibility, I find that transitory shocks have strengthening effects on the fuel composition of two subsequent generations of U.S. electricity capital. To facilitate a structural interpretation, I develop a model which informs: tests that find scale effects as the relevant mechanism; recovery of the elasticity of substitution between coal and non-coal electricity; and simulations of future carbon emissions following temporary interventions.
May 2016Using a Free Permit Rule to Forecast the Marginal Abatement Cost of Proposed Climate Policy
This paper develops a method for forecasting the marginal abatement cost (MAC) of climate policy using three features of the failed Waxman-Markey bill. First, the MAC is revealed by the price of traded permits. Second, the permit price is estimated using a regression discontinuity design (RDD) comparing stock returns of firms on either side of the policy’s free permit cutoff rule. Third, because Waxman-Markey was never implemented, I extend the RDD approach to incorporate prediction market prices which normalize estimates by policy realization probabilities. A final bounding analysis recovers a MAC range of $5 to $19 per ton CO2e.
December 2013Estimating Habit Formation in Voting
with Thomas Fujiwara, Tom Vogl: w19721
We estimate habit formation in voting--the effect of past on current turnout--by exploiting transitory voting cost shocks. Using county-level data on U.S. presidential elections from 1952-2012, we find that precipitation on current and past election days reduces voter turnout. Our estimates imply that a 1-point decrease in past turnout lowers current turnout by 0.7-0.9 points. Consistent with a dynamic extension of the Downsian framework, current precipitation has stronger effects following previous rainy elections. Further analyses suggest that this habit formation operates by reinforcing the intrinsic satisfaction associated with voting.

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