Can Pigou at the Polls Stop US Melting the Poles?

68 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2019 Last revised: 4 Aug 2019

See all articles by Soren Anderson

Soren Anderson

Michigan State University - Department of Economics; Michigan State University - Department of Agricultural Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research

Ioana Elena Marinescu

University of Pennsylvania - School of Social Policy & Practice; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Boris Shor

University of Houston - Department of Political Science

Date Written: July 31, 2019

Abstract

Surveys show majority U.S. support for a carbon tax. Yet none has been adopted. Why? We study two failed carbon tax initiatives in Washington State in 2016 and 2018. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we show that Washington's real-world campaigns reduced support by 20 percentage points. Resistance to higher energy prices explains opposition to these policies in the average precinct, while ideology explains 90% of the variation in votes across precincts. Conservatives preferred the 2016 revenue-neutral policy, while liberals preferred the 2018 green-spending policy. Yet we forecast both initiatives would fail in other states, demonstrating that surveys are overly optimistic.

Keywords: pigouvian taxes, carbon taxes, voting behavior, public opinion surveys, state environmental policy

JEL Classification: D72, H23, H71, H72, Q52, Q54, Q58

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Soren T. and Marinescu, Ioana Elena and Shor, Boris, Can Pigou at the Polls Stop US Melting the Poles? (July 31, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3400772 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3400772

Soren T. Anderson

Michigan State University - Department of Economics ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

Michigan State University - Department of Agricultural Economics ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Ioana Elena Marinescu (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - School of Social Policy & Practice ( email )

3701 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6214
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Boris Shor

University of Houston - Department of Political Science ( email )

Houston, TX 77204-3011
United States

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