NBER Working Papers by Shanjun Li

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Working Papers

March 2014Public Transit Bus Procurement: The Role of Energy Prices, Regulation and Federal Subsidies
with Matthew E. Kahn, Jerry Nickelsburg: w19964
The U.S. public transit system represents a multi-billion dollar industry that provides essential transit services to millions of urban residents. We study the market for new transit buses that features a set of non-profit transit agencies purchasing buses primarily from a few domestic bus makers. Unlike private vehicles, the fuel economy of public buses is irresponsive to fuel price changes. To understand this finding, we build a model of bus fleet management decisions of local transit agencies that yields testable hypotheses. Our empirical analysis of bus fleet turnover and capital investment suggests that transit agencies: (1) do not respond to energy prices in either their scrappage or purchase decisions; (2) respond to environmental regulations by scrapping diesel buses earlier and sw...
March 2012Gasoline Taxes and Consumer Behavior
with Joshua Linn, Erich Muehlegger: w17891
Gasoline taxes can be employed to correct externalities from automobile use and to raise government revenue. Our understanding of the optimal gasoline tax and the efficacy of existing taxes is largely based on empirical analysis of consumer responses to gasoline price changes. In this paper, we directly examine how gasoline taxes affect gasoline consumption as distinct from tax-inclusive retail gasoline prices. We find robust evidence that consumers respond more strongly to gasoline tax changes under a variety of model specifications. We discuss two potential reasons for our main findings as well as their implications.
October 2011Cost-Effectiveness of Electricity Energy Efficiency Programs
with Toshi H. Arimura, Richard G. Newell, Karen Palmer: w17556
We analyze the cost-effectiveness of electric utility ratepayer–funded programs to promote demand-side management (DSM) and energy efficiency (EE) investments. We specify a model that relates electricity demand to previous EE DSM spending, energy prices, income, weather, and other demand factors. In contrast to previous studies, we allow EE DSM spending to have a potential long-term demand effect and explicitly address possible endogeneity in spending. We find that current period EE DSM expenditures reduce electricity demand and that this effect persists for a number of years. Our findings suggest that ratepayer funded DSM expenditures between 1992 and 2006 produced a central estimate of 0.9 percent savings in electricity consumption over that time period and a 1.8 percent savings over all...
October 2008How Do Gasoline Prices Affect Fleet Fuel Economy?
with Roger von Haefen, Christopher Timmins: w14450
Exploiting a rich data set of passenger vehicle registrations in twenty U.S. metropolitan statistical areas from 1997 to 2005, we examine the effects of gasoline prices on the automotive fleet's composition. We find that high gasoline prices affect fleet fuel economy through two channels: (1) shifting new auto purchases towards more fuel-efficient vehicles, and (2) speeding the scrappage of older, less fuel-efficient used vehicles. Policy simulations based on our econometric estimates suggest that a 10% increase in gasoline prices from 2005 levels will generate a 0.22% increase in fleet fuel economy in the short run and a 2.04% increase in the long run.

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