NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Incidence of Carbon Taxes in U.S. Manufacturing: Lessons from Energy Cost Pass-Through

Sharat Ganapati, Joseph S. Shapiro, Reed Walker

NBER Working Paper No. 22281
Issued in May 2016, Revised in March 2018
NBER Program(s):Environment and Energy Economics, Industrial Organization, International Trade and Investment, Public Economics, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

This paper studies how changes in energy input costs for U.S. manufacturers affect the relative welfare of manufacturing producers and consumers (i.e. incidence). In doing so, we develop a partial equilibrium methodology to estimate the incidence of input taxes that can simultaneously account for three determinants of incidence that are typically studied in isolation: incomplete pass-through of input costs, differences in industry competitiveness, and factor substitution amongst inputs used for production. We apply this methodology to a set of U.S. manufacturing industries for which we observe plant-level unit prices and input choices. We find that about 70 percent of energy price-driven changes in input costs are passed through to consumers. We combine industry-specific pass-through rates with estimates of industry competitiveness to show that the share of welfare cost borne by consumers is 25-75 percent smaller (and the share borne by producers is correspondingly larger) than models featuring complete pass-through and perfect competition would suggest.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22281

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