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A meta-analysis of the price elasticity of gasoline demand. A SUR approach

Martijn Brons (), Peter Nijkamp, Eric Pels and Piet Rietveld

Energy Economics, 2008, vol. 30, issue 5, 2105-2122

Abstract: Automobile gasoline demand can be expressed as a multiplicative function of fuel efficiency, mileage per car and car ownership. This implies a linear relationship between the price elasticity of total fuel demand and the price elasticities of fuel efficiency, mileage per car and car ownership. In this meta-analytical study we aim to investigate and explain the variation in empirical estimates of the price elasticity of gasoline demand. A methodological novelty is that we use the linear relationship between the elasticities to develop a meta-analytical estimation approach based on a Seemingly Unrelated Regression (SUR) model with Cross Equation Restrictions. This approach enables us to combine observations of different elasticities and thus increase our sample size. Furthermore, it allows for a more detailed interpretation of our meta-regression results. The empirical results of the study demonstrate that the SUR approach leads to more precise results (i.e., lower standard errors) than a standard meta-analytical approach. We find that, with mean short run and long run price elasticities of - 0.34 and - 0.84, respectively, the demand for gasoline is not very price sensitive. Both in the short and the long run, the impact of a change in the gasoline price on demand is mainly driven by responses in fuel efficiency and mileage per car and to a slightly lesser degree by changes in car ownership. Furthermore, we find that study characteristics relating to the geographic area studied, the year of the study, the type of data used, the time horizon and the functional specification of the demand equation have a significant impact on the estimated value of the price elasticity of gasoline demand.

Date: 2008
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