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Hidden Baggage: Behavioral Responses to Changes in Airline Ticket Tax Disclosure

Sebastien Bradley and Naomi Feldman ()

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 2020, vol. 12, issue 4, 58-87

Abstract: We examine the impact of a January 2012 enforcement action by the US Department of Transportation that required US air carriers and online travel agents to modify their web interfaces to incorporate all ticket taxes in up-front, advertised fares. We show that the more prominent display of tax-inclusive prices is associated with significant reductions in consumer tax incidence, demand, and ticket revenues along more heavily taxed itineraries. In particular, the fraction of unit taxes that airlines passed onto consumers fell by roughly 75 cents for every dollar of tax. These results present evidence of consumer inattention in a novel institutional setting featuring quasi-experimental variation in tax salience, economically significant tax amounts, and endogenous price responses.

JEL-codes: D91 H22 H25 H31 L84 L93 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Working Paper: Hidden Baggage: Behavioral Responses to Changes in Airline Ticket Tax Disclosure (2018) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1257/pol.20190200

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:12:y:2020:i:4:p:58-87