ESSAYS IN ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE
Cropper, Maureen L
Sweeting, Andrew T
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation studies technological change in the context of energy and environmental economics. Technology plays a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. Chapter 1 estimates a structural model of the car industry that allows for endogenous product characteristics to investigate how gasoline taxes, R&D subsidies and competition affect fuel efficiency and vehicle prices in the medium-run, both through car-makers' decisions to adopt technologies and through their investments in knowledge capital. I use technology adoption and automotive patents data for 1986-2006 to estimate this model. I show that 92% of fuel efficiency improvements between 1986 and 2006 were driven by technology adoption, while the role of knowledge capital is largely to reduce the marginal production costs of fuel-efficient cars. A counterfactual predicts that an additional $1/gallon gasoline tax in 2006 would have increased the technology adoption rate, and raised average fuel efficiency by 0.47 miles/gallon, twice the annual fuel efficiency improvement in 2003-2006. An R&D subsidy that would reduce the marginal cost of knowledge capital by 25% in 2006 would have raised investment in knowledge capital. This subsidy would have raised fuel efficiency only by 0.06 miles/gallon in 2006, but would have increased variable profits by $2.3 billion over all firms that year. Passenger vehicle fuel economy standards in the United States will require substantial improvements in new vehicle fuel economy over the next decade. Economic theory suggests that vehicle manufacturers adopt greater fuel-saving technologies for vehicles with larger market size. Chapter 2 documents a strong connection between market size, measured by sales, and technology adoption. Using variation consumer demographics and purchasing pattern to account for the endogeneity of market size, we find that a 10 percent increase in market size raises vehicle fuel efficiency by 0.3 percent, as compared to a mean improvement of 1.4 percent per year over 1997-2013. Historically, fuel price and demographic-driven market size changes have had large effects on technology adoption. Furthermore, fuel taxes would induce firms to adopt fuel-saving technologies on their most efficient cars, thereby polarizing the fuel efficiency distribution of the new vehicle fleet.