Consumers at all income levels have benefited from improvements that have made vehicles more fuel efficient.

That's the finding of a study recently published by David Greene, a senior fellow at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville's Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, and Jilleah Welch, Baker Center research associate.


The study—"The Impact of Increased Fuel Economy for Light-Duty Vehicles on the Distribution of Income in the United States"—shows that since 1980, all income groups appear to have benefited from fuel economy improvements to passenger cars and light trucks.

The researchers conclude that as a percent of income, the greatest benefits went to the 20 percent of households in the lowest income category. However, in terms of total dollars saved, the study found that the 60 percent of households in the three middle income groups enjoyed the greatest benefit.

The study analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditures Surveys from 1980 to 2014, the same data used to measure the Consumer Price Index.

The report was sponsored by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Energy Foundation.