Estimating Willingness to Pay for E85 in the United States Using an Intercept Survey of Flex Motorists

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2018-07-03
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Liao, Kenneth
Babcock, Bruce
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Pouliot, Sebastien
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Economics

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

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The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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1898–present

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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Meeting US ethanol blending mandates proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency will require a substantial number of motorists with flex-fuel vehicles to switch from low ethanol-gasoline blends to high ethanol-gasoline blends. The lower the willingness to pay for high-ethanol blends, the greater the cost of complying with the proposed mandates. Existing estimates of the willingness to pay for high-ethanol blends use data from Brazil (where consumers have knowledge of and experience with high-ethanol blends), data generated when retail prices greatly favored low-ethanol blends, or stated data collected from mail and online surveys. To obtain more accurate estimates of US willingness to pay, we conducted an intercept survey in five US states of motorists with flex-fuel vehicles as they were refueling. We address a sample-selection problem caused by the lack of stations that sell high-ethanol blends; consumers who have a high willingness to pay are more likely to seek out the stations and hence to show up in our sample. We attempt to overcome the problem caused by prices favoring low-ethanol blends by augmenting revealed preference data with stated preference data generated by hypothetical prices that tended to favor high-ethanol blends. Our estimates of mean willingness to pay shows that the price at which the average US consumer will switch fuels is substantially below the price that equates the cost per mile of driving. The large discount that the average US consumer requires to switch suggests that the cost of proposed ethanol mandates will be higher than previously estimated.

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This article is published as Pouliot,S., Liao, K.A., Babcock, B.A.; Estimating Willingness to Pay for E85 in the United States Using an Intercept Survey of Flex Motorists. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, July 3 2018; Doi: 10.1093/ajae/aay041. Posted with permission.

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Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2018
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