Friday, May 23, 2008

More anecdotes on gas prices and transit behavior

Another day, another story about high gas prices inducing changes in economic behavior, whether it's spending less overall on gas or the likely concomitant changes in commuting and other transit behavior.

The unfortunate thing is that by and large it is individuals with relative low income who are reported to have changed their behavior because of the rising relative price of oil. A higher gas tax back when the price was lower would have had the same asymmetric impact, but with a tax the U.S. government could have at least used the tax revenue to compensate the hardest hit.

Were the oil shocks of the 1970s coincident with changes in transit behavior? If yes, were the effects permanent or transitory?