Thursday, March 14, 2024

Americans favor SUV's over the environment, ...

...because they are exempt from fuel economy standards:
Because making light trucks held to lower environmental standards was more profitable than building small clean cars, automakers marketed big models, including suvs, enthusiastically. They portrayed them as quintessentially American, embodying freedom, strength and adventurousness. By 2002 light trucks made up a bigger share of light-duty vehicle sales than cars. After the price shock of the 1970s, by the 1990s petrol had become cheaper in America than in other rich countries—so the cost of running a big car did not deter buyers. Such models are convenient for suburban living, and consumers see them as safe. (The Economist)

This is an example of what economists call "revealed preference."  You don't have to ask people whether they care about the environment; instead you infer their preferences from how they behave.   

It is also an example of "incentive misalignment" from Chapter 1.  If we want people to drive more fuel efficient cars, we have to stop penalizing them for doing so.  

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