Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cash for klunkers and heterogeneous treatment effects

Ken Troske points me to this letter to the editor that notes one perverse effect of the "cash for clunkers" program that subsidizes owners or old cars to trade them in for new cars. The program raises the market value of old cars and thus makes it harder for a poor person without a car to afford to buy one. Of course, at the same time, poor people are presumably over-represented among the owners of clunker cars. So, for some poor people the the program is a windfall.

Of course, the program is not really about poor people, or about the environment. It is about shoveling more tax dollars to the big three auto companies.

That flushing sound you hear is your tax dollars, including the two billion recently added to the program.