The Unequal Economic Consequences of Carbon Pricing

120 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2021 Last revised: 7 Apr 2023

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 15, 2021


This paper studies the economic impacts of carbon pricing. Exploiting institutional features of the European carbon market and high-frequency data, I document that a tighter carbon pricing regime leads to higher energy prices, lower emissions and more green innovation. This comes at the cost of a fall in economic activity, which is borne unequally across society: poorer households lower their consumption significantly while richer households are less affected. The poor are more exposed because of their higher energy share and, importantly, also experience a larger fall in income. Targeted fiscal policy can help alleviate these costs while maintaining emission reductions.

Keywords: Carbon pricing, cap and trade, emissions, macroeconomic effects, inequality, high-frequency identification

JEL Classification: E32, E62, H23, Q54, Q58

Suggested Citation

Känzig, Diego R., The Unequal Economic Consequences of Carbon Pricing (February 15, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Diego R. Känzig (Contact Author)

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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