Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Umeå Economic Studies,
Umeå University, Department of Economics

No 894: State and Industrial Actions to Influence Consumer Behavior

Erik Brockwell ()
Additional contact information
Erik Brockwell: Department of Economics, Umeå School of Business and Economics, Postal: Umeå University, S 901 87 Umeå, Sweden

Abstract: This thesis consists of an introductory part and three papers. Paper [I] examines how taxes affect consumption of commodities that are detrimental to health and the environment. Specifically, this paper examines if a tax increase leads to a significantly larger change in consumption than a producer price change, which is referred to as the signaling effect from taxation. The analysis uses aggregated cross-sectional time series data and information on major legislation introductions in Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom from 1970 to 2009. We find the main result to be that the signaling effect is significant for “Electricity” in Sweden and Denmark and significant for “Electricity” and “Petrol” in the United Kingdom. Paper [II] examines how sin taxation changes long-term consumer behavior regarding commodities which are deemed harmful for both health and the environment. These include tobacco, alcoholic beverages, sugar and confectionary, household energy, and motor fuel. Specifically, we examine the signaling effect from taxation which is seen if a tax increase leads to a significantly larger change in consumption than a producer price change. The empirical analysis is conducted by a US panel data study, during the period 1988-2012 for the four US census regions, using the Almost Ideal Demand System (AIDS). We find the main result to be that the signaling effect from taxation is significant for tobacco as well as for electricity and motor fuel. Paper [III] examines state and industry responses on consumption of cigarettes and petroleum in the United States from 1998-2012. Upon facing consumption choices, the consumer faces two competing sets of messages, one from the government and another from the industry. The objective of the state is to steer consumption in the right direction due to the harmful effects from consumption and asymmetric information among consumers. This is done mainly via taxation and state media expenditures. The industry, on the other hand, seeks to incentivize the public to ignore or reject state research and signals as well as maximizing net economic returns. This is mainly done via industry media and lobbying expenditures. We find that the main results indicate, for cigarettes, industrial media and lobbying expenditure is statistically significant on consumption. For petroleum, we find that producer prices, state media expenditure, and industrial lobbying expenditure are statistically significant on consumption.

Keywords: Taxation; legislation; regulation; health; environment; tobacco; alcohol; petroleum; electricity; gas; sugar; consumption; prices; signaling effect; almost ideal demand system; public policy; panel data; media expenditure; lobbying; vector error correction model

JEL-codes: C22; C23; D12; D72; D80; H23; I18; Q58

134 pages, September 17, 2014

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