• 3 minutes e-car sales collapse
  • 6 minutes America Is Exceptional in Its Political Divide
  • 11 minutes Perovskites, a ‘dirt cheap’ alternative to silicon, just got a lot more efficient
  • 13 hours GREEN NEW DEAL = BLIZZARD OF LIES
  • 5 days Does Toyota Know Something That We Don’t?
  • 5 days World could get rid of Putin and Russia but nobody is bold enough
  • 23 hours America should go after China but it should be done in a wise way.
  • 7 days China is using Chinese Names of Cities on their Border with Russia.
  • 8 days Russian Officials Voice Concerns About Chinese-Funded Rail Line
  • 8 days OPINION: Putin’s Genocidal Myth A scholarly treatise on the thousands of years of Ukrainian history. RCW
  • 8 days CHINA Economy IMPLODING - Fastest Price Fall in 14 Years & Stock Market Crashes to 5 Year Low
  • 7 days CHINA Economy Disaster - Employee Shortages, Retirement Age, Birth Rate & Ageing Population
  • 8 days Putin and Xi Bet on the Global South
  • 8 days "(Another) Putin Critic 'Falls' Out Of Window, Dies"
  • 9 days United States LNG Exports Reach Third Place
  • 9 days Biden's $2 trillion Plan for Insfrastructure and Jobs
Gasoline Prices: Why Do We Pay What We Pay At The Pump?

Gasoline Prices: Why Do We Pay What We Pay At The Pump?

Gasoline prices are influenced by…

Red Sea Attacks Could Spark Spike in Gasoline Prices

Red Sea Attacks Could Spark Spike in Gasoline Prices

Oil prices have risen sharply…

Argentina's Energy Crisis Escalates As Fuel Prices Skyrocket

Argentina's Energy Crisis Escalates As Fuel Prices Skyrocket

Argentina is experiencing a severe…

James Hamilton

James Hamilton

James is the Editor of Econbrowser – a popular economics blog that Analyses current economic conditions and policy.

More Info

Premium Content

How Do Consumers Respond To Lower Gasoline Prices?

U.S. gasoline prices averaged $3.31 a gallon over December 2013 to February 2014 but only $2.31 a gallon over December 2014 to February 2015. How did consumers respond to this windfall in their spending power? A new study by the JP Morgan Chase Institute has come up with some interesting answers.

Rather than trying to draw conclusions from imperfect aggregate or survey data, the Chase study is based on the anonymized credit or debit card transactions of 25 million individuals over these two periods of high versus low gasoline prices. They found huge differences across individuals in terms of how important gasoline is for their budget. A typical household was spending $101 a month on gasoline back when gas prices were high. For the highest-spending quintile, that number was $359/month, whereas for the lowest quintile it was only $2/month. And spending on gasoline is a much bigger fraction of the budget for lower income households. Related: Can Tesla Deliver A Self-Driving Electric Car Before 2020?

SpendingOnGasoline

Spending on gasoline by different income quintiles and age groups (total dollars and as a percent of percent of income). Source: JP Morgan Chase Institute.

PercentOfGasolineSavings

Increase in purchasing power from gasoline saving for different income groups. Source: JP Morgan Chase Institute.

I and others have tried to infer the effects of lower gasoline prices on consumer spending by looking at aggregate consumption spending. But, using their detailed data set, the Chase researchers were able to come up with a more satisfying answer. The basic idea is to compare how much spending on other items changed between the high gas price and low gas price periods for those who had been spending a large amount on gasoline with those who had been spending a low amount on gasoline. Economists refer to this as inference based on difference in differences. The Chase researchers found 73 cents in extra spending on other items for every dollar saved at the gasoline pump. Restaurants and groceries were the two biggest areas where spending was observed to increase. Related: Macroeconomic Instability For Emerging Markets Thanks To Commodity Bust

PercentOfGaslineSavingsSpent

Percent of gasoline saving spent on other categories. Source: JP Morgan Chase Institute(Click Image To Enlarge)

One limitation of the data set is that most car purchases are not done with credit cards. We know from the aggregate data that increased car purchases are a big component of the consumer response to lower gasoline prices. Thus the total extra spending is likely to be significantly higher than the 73 percent measured directly.

The evidence thus is that consumers were indeed responding to the most recent price declines the same way they usually did, namely, by spending most of the windfall. The fact that we don’t see this as clearly in the aggregate data suggests that the economy has been facing other headwinds that partly offset the stimulus from lower gasoline prices.

Another consumer response to lower gasoline prices is increased consumption of gasoline itself, though these adjustments take more time to develop. U.S. vehicle miles traveled, which had been stagnant while gas prices were high, have since resumed their historical growth.

U.S.VehicleMiles

Source: Calculated Risk. (Click Image To Enlarge) Related: Shedding Some Light On U.S. Energy Consumption

And the average fuel efficiency of new vehicles sold in the United States, which had been improving steadily through most of 2014, has fallen with oil prices.

ADVERTISEMENT

FuelEfficiencyAverage

Source: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

By James Hamilton

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:


Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage





Leave a comment

Leave a comment




EXXON Mobil -0.35
Open57.81 Trading Vol.6.96M Previous Vol.241.7B
BUY 57.15
Sell 57.00
Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News