Can Pigou at the Polls Stop Us Melting the Poles?

69 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2019 Last revised: 11 Jun 2021

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: August 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.

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Soren T. and Marinescu, Ioana Elena and Shor, Boris, Can Pigou at the Polls Stop Us Melting the Poles? (August 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26146, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3435967

Soren T. Anderson (Contact Author)

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

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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