Distributional concerns and public opinion: EV subsidies in the U.S. and Japan

Sijeong Lim, Nives Dolsak, Aseem Prakash, Seiki Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores whether perceptions about distributive inequity shape public support for energy transition policies. The introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) is an important policy priority for the decarbonization of road transportation. Because high sticker prices restrict EV sales, governments offer consumers EV subsidies. However, some are concerned that subsidies may favor certain groups and industries. Using a conjoint experiment, we examine the public preference for EV subsidies in the U.S. and Japan.,. In the U.S., there is a concern that EV subsidies help the high-income (i.e., individual-focused concerns), while the prevailing concern in Japan is whether they favor foreign companies which are the first movers in the EV industry (i.e., industry-focused concerns). We embed a vignette experiment within the conjoint experiment to prime the respondents with individual- and industry-focused distributional concerns. In both countries, regardless of the priming they received, our respondents favor universalistic subsidies that are inclusive of the high-income and luxury/foreign cars to subsidies that are more progressively targeted (i.e., exclusive of the rich and luxury cars) or favoring domestic firms. As such, recent EV policy discourse centering on distributional politics does not appear to reflect public opinion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112883
JournalEnergy Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2022 May

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Sijeong Lim was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea ( NRF-2020S1A5A8040915 )

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Distributional politics
  • EV subsidy
  • Experiments
  • Japan
  • Public opinion
  • U.S.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Energy
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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