Malapportionment, Gasoline Taxes, and Climate Change
43 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 2 Sep 2010
Date Written: August 25, 2010
Gasoline taxes vary widely among industrialized countries, as does support for the United Nations’ effort to curtail the use of fossil fuels to address the climate change problem. We argue that malapportionment of the electoral system affects both the rate at which governments tax gasoline and the extent to which governments participate in global efforts to ameliorate climate change. Malapportionment results in a “rural bias” such that the political system disproportionately represents rural voters. Since rural voters in industrialized countries rely more heavily on fossil fuels than urban voters, our prediction is that malapportioned political systems will have lower gasoline taxes, and less commitment to climate change amelioration, than systems with equitable representation of constituents. As levels of malapportionment were established at the founding of nations in most cases - sometimes centuries before the invention of gasoline taxes and awareness of global warming - it is very likely exogenous and uncorrelated with the error term in our models. We find that malapportionment is negatively related to both gasoline taxes and support for the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (where “support” is measured as the duration of the spell between the signing of the Protocol and ratification by the domestic legislature).
Keywords: enviromental taxation, climate change, malapportionment, Kyoto Protocol, gasoline taxes, political institutions, rural bias
JEL Classification: Q2, Q20, Q28, Q3, Q38, Q4, Q48, K32, N5, O13
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