Job Market Paper: Who Receives Environmental Benefits from Driving Electric Vehicles?
Abstract: Electrification of on-road transportation is a prominent strategy for emissions reduction. The distribution of environmental benefits from electric vehicles (EVs) largely depends on the regions to which EVs are driven. I develop a structural model of the U.S. auto market and use data from California to study household vehicle selection. Combining the model-predicted probability of EV driving with simulated optimal travel routes, I construct a measure of the cumulative EV mileage at a highly granular geographic level, which captures the spatial distribution of environmental benefits. I show that higher-income communities receive more benefits. However, this disparity is less pronounced than that observed in EV adoption, suggesting a positive environmental spillover effect from EV driving. In the counterfactual policy experiments, I compare the effect of EV purchasing subsidies (both universal and targeted to low incomes) with charging station investments under various spatial deployment scenarios. The results suggest that investment in charging infrastructures generates more environmental benefits than purchase subsidy policies. Furthermore, place-based charging station policies can promote a more equitable distribution of these benefits.
Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of gasoline content regulation on consumer demand in China. Our empirical design takes advantage of a unique market structure and policy-induced changes in gasoline formulation. Using detailed gas station-level data, we compare the sales volume of stations that are contiguous to city borders, both before and after one side imposes higher gasoline emission standards. A standard upgrade increases both the price and the environmental quality of the gasoline. We find that consumers respond positively to standard upgrades and substitute higher-emission gasoline for lower-emission gasoline. The Willingness to Pay (WTP) for gasoline increases by roughly 5% in response to this environmentally-friendly reformulation. We present evidence to suggest that the effects are driven by the preference for the higher environmental value of the new gasoline, and discuss related policy implications.
Abstract: Investments in light rail are meant to improve accessibility and replace driving, but little research has documented the link between alternative subway policies and vehicle usage. Based on a unique data set from a major gasoline retailer in China, this paper compares the effects of expanding the subway network with revising subway prices. We find that both subway expansion and the fare change significantly impact gasoline consumption in the short run. However, the effect of subway expansion is larger and more durable. A cost-benefit calculation finds that expanding the subway is more cost-effective in reducing driving than fares changes.