Road Pricing in Germany: A Behavioral Economics Perspective

  • Erik Gawel


The benefit principle of public finance is regaining ground in the scientific and political arena. User-based financing for excludable public services plays an important role here. This becomes evident in the field of transport infrastructure for which a chronic underfunding has been claimed for a long time now in Germany. However, road pricing policies introducing user charges for the first time face ubiquitous “fee-resistance” that expresses the unwillingness to see access to goods that were previously free of price obstacles now obstructed by individual payment obligations. Thus, political involvement might turn out, from a public choice perspective, to be a real barrier to PPP projects in the case of user-charge financing rather than a driver as usually has been argued. For the case of transport infrastructure, missing political acceptance of road user charges and perceived lack of price fairness might be remedied though through an updating of reference prices determining the perceived fairness of market prices. Thus, behavioral pricing might solve the dilemma of politicians trapped between the conventional tax resistance and the “constitutional fee resistance” occurring on the occasion of a transition of funding from general taxes towards specific road user charges.


Behavioral economics Road pricing Highway infrastructure Fee-resistance Behavioral pricing Public choice 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research—UFZLeipzigGermany

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