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Did U.S. Consumers Respond to the 2014-2015 Oil Price Shock? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Abstract:
The impact of oil price shocks on the U.S. economy is a topic of considerable debate. In this paper, we examine the response of U.S. consumers to the 2014-2015 negative oil price shock using representative survey data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. We propose a difference-in-difference identification strategy based on two factors, vehicle ownership and gasoline reliance, which generate variation in exposure to oil price shocks across consumers. Our findings suggest that exposed consumers significantly increased their spending relative to non-exposed consumers when oil prices fell, and that the average marginal propensity to consume (MPC) out of gasoline savings was above 1. Across products, we find that consumers increased spending especially on transportation goods and non-essential items.

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Keywords: Oil prices, Oil shocks, Gasoline prices, U.S. economy, Consumer spending

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.41.1.pale

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Published in Volume 41, Number 1 of the bi-monthly journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.