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Specification and estimation of the price responsiveness of alcohol demand: a policy analytic perspective

By Srikant Devaraj

Abstract

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)Accurate estimation of alcohol price elasticity is important for policy analysis – e.g.., determining optimal taxes and projecting revenues generated from proposed tax changes. Several approaches to specifying and estimating the price elasticity of demand for alcohol can be found in the literature. There are two keys to policy-relevant specification and estimation of alcohol price elasticity. First, the underlying demand model should take account of alcohol consumption decisions at the extensive margin – i.e., individuals' decisions to drink or not – because the price of alcohol may impact the drinking initiation decision and one's decision to drink is likely to be structurally different from how much they drink if they decide to do so (the intensive margin). Secondly, the modeling of alcohol demand elasticity should yield both theoretical and empirical results that are causally interpretable. The elasticity estimates obtained from the existing two-part model takes into account the extensive margin, but are not causally interpretable. The elasticity estimates obtained using aggregate-level models, however, are causally interpretable, but do not explicitly take into account the extensive margin. There currently exists no specification and estimation method for alcohol price elasticity that both accommodates the extensive margin and is causally interpretable. I explore additional sources of bias in the extant approaches to elasticity specification and estimation: 1) the use of logged (vs. nominal) alcohol prices; and 2) implementation of unnecessarily restrictive assumptions underlying the conventional two-part model. I propose a new approach to elasticity specification and estimation that covers the two key requirements for policy relevance and remedies all such biases. I find evidence of substantial divergence between the new and extant methods using both simulated and the real data. Such differences are profound when placed in the context of alcohol tax revenue generation

Topics: Alcohol demand, Price elasticity, Two-part model, Alcoholic beverages -- Prices -- Research -- Methodology, Elasticity (Economics) -- Measurement, Alcoholic beverage industry -- Econometric models, Beer -- Prices --Research -- Methodology, Consumption (Economics) -- Econometric models, Demand (Economic theory) -- Econometric models, Tax collection
Year: 2016
DOI identifier: 10.7912/C2T591
OAI identifier: oai:scholarworks.iupui.edu:1805/8884
Provided by: IUPUIScholarWorks

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