NBER Working Papers by Arthur van Benthem

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Working Papers

July 2016Finders, Keepers?
with Niko Jaakkola, Daniel Spiro: w22421
Natural resource taxation and investment often exhibit cyclical behavior, associated with shifts in political power. Why do finders get to keep more of their discoveries in some periods than others? We show such cycles result from the inability of governments to commit to future taxes and firms to commit to credibly exiting a country for good. In a cycle, large resource revenues induce a high tax which lowers exploration investment and thereby future findings, which in turn leads governments to reduce tax rates again. Tax oscillations are more pronounced for resources which take longer to develop, or following temporary resource price shocks. Our tractable model provides the first rational-expectations explanation of resource tax cycles under endogenous exploration investment and threat of...
March 2016Sufficient Statistics for Imperfect Externality-Correcting Policies
with Mark R. Jacobsen, Christopher R. Knittel, James M. Sallee: w22063
Pigouvian taxes can fully correct for market failures due to externalities, but actual policies are commonly forced to deviate from the Pigouvian ideal due to administrative or political constraints. This paper derives sufficient statistics, which require a minimum of market information, that quantify the efficiency costs of such constraints on policy design. We demonstrate that, under certain intuitive conditions, standard output from a regression of true externalities on policy variables, including the R2 and the sum of squared residuals, have immediate welfare interpretations—they are sufficient statistics that compare alternative policies. We utilize our approach in three diverse empirical applications: random mismeasurement in externalities, imperfect spatial policy differentiation, a...
May 2013Vehicle Scrappage and Gasoline Policy
with Mark R. Jacobsen: w19055
We estimate the sensitivity of scrap decisions to changes in used car values - the "scrap elasticity" - and show how it influences used car fleets under policies aimed at reducing gasoline use. Large scrap elasticities will tend to produce emissions leakage under efficiency standards as the longevity of used vehicles is increased, a process known as the Gruenspecht effect. To explore the magnitude of this leakage we assemble a novel dataset of U.S. used vehicle registrations and prices, which we relate through time via differential effects in gasoline cost: A gasoline price increase or decrease of $1 alters the number of fuel-efficient vs. fuel-inefficient vehicles scrapped by 18%. These relationships allow us to provide what we believe are the first estimates of the scrap elasticity it...

Published: Jacobsen, Mark R., and Arthur A. van Benthem. 2015. "Vehicle Scrappage and Gasoline Policy." American Economic Review, 105(3): 1312-38.

September 2009Unintended Consequences from Nested State & Federal Regulations: The Case of the Pavley Greenhouse-Gas-per-Mile Limits
with Lawrence H. Goulder, Mark R. Jacobsen: w15337
Fourteen U.S. states recently pledged to adopt limits on greenhouse gases (GHGs) per mile of light-duty automobiles. Previous analyses predicted this action would significantly reduce emissions from new cars in these states, but ignored possible offsetting emissions increases from policy-induced adjustments in new car markets in other (non-adopting) states and in the used car market. Such offsets (or "leakage") reflect the fact that the state-level effort interacts with the national corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard: the state-level initiative effectively loosens the national standard and gives automakers scope to profitably increase sales of high-emissions automobiles in non-adopting states. In addition, although the state-level effort may well spur the invention of fuel-...

Published: “Unintended Consequences from Nested State & Federal Environmental Regulation: The Case of the Pavley Greenhouse-Gas-per-Mile Limits” (with Mark R. Jacobsen and Arthur A. van Benthem), Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 63:187-207, March 2012.

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