One Markup to Rule Them All: Taxation by Liquor Pricing Regulation
Eugenio J. Miravete
- American Economic Journal: Microeconomics (Forthcoming)
Commodity taxation often involves uniform tax rates. We use alcohol laws that tax differentiated spirits with a comprehensive uniform markup to evaluate redistribution generated by such simple tax policy. We document preference heterogeneity among consumers, variation in product demand elasticities, and market power among producers with heterogeneous product portfolios. Relative to more flexible product-level markups recognizing demand heterogeneity and strategic price responses of firms, we find that the uniform markup underprices less elastic spirits, implicitly subsidizing low-income and less educated residents. The uniform markup grants additional market power to small specialized firms whose product positioning benefits from the policy.
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