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The Road Mileage User Fee: Level, Intensity, and Predictors of Public Support

38 Pages Posted: 22 May 2014  

Denvil Duncan

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Venkata Nadella

Indiana University - School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Stacey Giroux

Indiana University

Ashley Bowers

Indiana University

John Graham

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA)

Date Written: April 27, 2014

Abstract

The road mileage user-fee is viewed as a promising alternative to the fuel tax, which in recent years has proven to be an inadequate means of financing road infrastructure. Public opposition is often thought to be a barrier to the political feasibility of the road mileage user-fee, but there has been only limited empirical evidence to quantify this opposition and identify factors that may be driving it. We use a nationally representative public opinion survey to investigate the level and intensity of support for replacing the fuel tax with a mileage user-fee. Our results confirm that there is widespread public opposition to the adoption of mileage user-fees, with the number of opponents exceeding the number of supporters by a ratio of 4 to 1. Furthermore, public support for the mileage user-fee is largely independent of individual demographic characteristics but is sensitive to features of the mode of administration. Administration modes that improve public acceptability are those that minimize privacy intrusion, one-time technology costs, and tax evasion concerns, and maximize convenience, accuracy, and fairness. The intensity of opposition is stronger than the intensity of support; relative to supporters, those who oppose the mileage user-fee are more likely to state that they are willing to take political action against the adoption of mileage user-fees. Policy implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Keywords: road mileage user-fee; gasoline tax; highway financing; public opinion

JEL Classification: H2, H4, H54, R4

Suggested Citation

Duncan, Denvil and Nadella, Venkata and Giroux, Stacey and Bowers, Ashley and Graham, John, The Road Mileage User Fee: Level, Intensity, and Predictors of Public Support (April 27, 2014). Indiana University, Bloomington School of Public & Environmental Affairs Research Paper No. 2439335. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2439335 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2439335

Denvil Duncan (Contact Author)

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Venkata Nadella

Indiana University - School of Public and Environmental Affairs ( email )

1315 East 10th Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Stacey Giroux

Indiana University ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Ashley Bowers

Indiana University ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

John Graham

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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