Published: July 2013

ID #: 65062

Journal: Amer J Agr Econ

Authors: Zhen C, Finkelstein EA, Nonnemaker JM, Karns SA, Todd JE

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This paper predicts the effects of sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes on demand for 23 categories of packaged foods and beverages and the associated changes in calories, fat, and sodium intake and consumer welfare. Using household food purchase data from the national 2006 Nielsen Homescan panel, researchers used demand elasticity estimates to simulate the effects of a half-cent per ounce increase in SSB prices, in the form of an excise tax, on household purchases of calories and two key nutrients–fat and sodium. Findings suggest that a half-cent per ounce increase in SSB prices would reduce total calories from the 23 categories of foods and beverages, but increase sodium and fat intake as a result of substitution. The net effect is a reduction of 7.9 calories per person per day, and an increase in daily fat and sodium intake by 0.2 grams and 49.8 milligrams, respectively. The predicted decline in calories is larger for lower-income households (13.2 calories per day) than higher-income households (5.6 calories per day), although welfare loss is also higher among lower-income households.  The welfare loss for lower-income households is about $5 per household per year more than higher-incomes households because lower-income households report higher SSB purchases.

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