Welfare Implications of Electric-Bike Subsidies: Evidence from Sweden
34 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2022 Last revised: 15 Mar 2022
Date Written: March 10, 2022
Electric bikes are a potentially important tool to address global warming since they can be a viable alternative to cars in urban areas. Governments are using subsidies to promote household adoption. Welfare analyses are challenging, requiring pass-through estimates from transactions, incidence of non-additionality (i.e. those who would have bought even without the subsidy), and resulting substitution from driving. We combine administrative, insurance and survey data from a large-scale Swedish subsidy program in 2018, which is similar to other programs around world, to evaluate these implications. We find (1) complete pass through of the average $500 subsidy to consumers, (2) a near doubling of E-bikes sold but one-third of adopters are non-additional; and (3) a savings of 1.3 tons of carbon emissions during the life of the E-bike. Combining these estimates, an E-bike subsidy program can only be justified with a social cost of carbon that is several hundred dollars higher than what is typically used.
Keywords: Electric bikes, subsidies, welfare analysis
JEL Classification: I18, D10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation