The distributional effects of a nitrogen tax: Evidence from Germany

Clara Johne, Enno Schröder, Hauke Ward*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

35 Downloads (Pure)


The high level of nitrogen emissions over the last decades and their adverse impact on the natural environment and human health are a pressing environmental issue. A nitrogen tax can be a cost-efficient and effective policy instrument to reduce nitrogen emissions. However, adverse effects on low- and middle-income households might lead to societal and political frictions that could end up in resistance. In this paper we investigate how a hypothetical nitrogen tax covering the specific external costs of nitrogen could be implemented and estimate its short-term distributional effects on household income groups in Germany. The findings show that the proposed tax would be regressive. However, if the tax rate is set equal to the true cost of nitrogen, the monetary impacts would overall be small, ranging from 1.15% of income for the first income quintile to 0.66% for the fifth. Complementary policy measures to lower the burden on low-income households, farmers and the energy sector could preempt social resistance against the tax.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107815
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Distributional effects
  • Environmental policy
  • Germany
  • Household impacts
  • Nitrogen tax


Dive into the research topics of 'The distributional effects of a nitrogen tax: Evidence from Germany'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this