An estimation of the demand for gasoline in Montana, and projections of future gasoline consumption

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


How gasoline consumption responds to changes in its own price is of interest to many different groups. States fund a large portion of their road construction and maintenance by a direct tax on gasoline. The federal government also receives revenue by directly taxing gasoline. Automobile manufacturers are interested in how consumers' demand for fuel efficiency changes with changes in the price of gasoline. For these reasons, and more, it is important to understand how gasoline consumption will respond to changes in price. Other researchers have already attempted to measure gasoline demand at the national level. However, very little work has been done at a state level. This thesis attempts to apply a model similar to the previously developed national models at a state level. The state examined here is Montana. This state is of particular interest because it differs from the national average in several key characteristics, including more vehicles per capita, less fuel efficient vehicles, and few alternatives to driving such as public transportation. The model employed simultaneously estimates the demands for vehicle miles traveled and fuel efficiency. By estimating the demands for both of these variables, it is possible to indirectly determine the demand for gasoline. When estimated, it appears that Montana's consumption of gasoline is less responsive to changes in gasoline prices, and more responsive to income changes, than the nation as a whole. The estimated model is used to project future gasoline consumption. The projections were developed using potential future levels of income, population, and gasoline prices. These projections indicate that it would require gasoline prices rising considerably before per capita consumption would decline.




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