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The Welfare Effects of Health-based Food Tax Policy

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  • Kaisa Kotakorpi
  • Tommi Härkänen
  • Pirjo Pietinen
  • Heli Reinivuo
  • Ilpo Suoniemi
  • Jukka Pirttilä

Abstract

This paper examines the effects of health-oriented food tax reforms on the distribution of tax payments, food demand and health outcomes. Unlike earlier work, we also take into account the uncertainty related to both demand estimation and health estimates and report the confidence intervals for the overall health effects instead of only point estimates. A sugar tax of 1 € / kg reduces the incidence of type 2 diabetes on average by 13% and it also leads to a reduction in coronary heart disease. The health effects appear to be most pronounced for low-income individuals, and the reforms may therefore reduce health inequality. This effect undermines the traditional regressivity argument against the heavy taxation of unhealthy food.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3633.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3633

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Keywords: sin taxes; food taxation; tax incidence; commodity demand; obesity; diabetes; coronary heart disease; bootstrapping;

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  1. Nordström, Jonas & Thunström, Linda, 2011. "Can targeted food taxes and subsidies improve the diet? Distributional effects among income groups," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 259-271, April.
  2. Nordström, Jonas & Thunström, Linda, 2007. "The Impact of Tax Reforms Designed to Encourage a Healthier Grain Consumption," HUI Working Papers 11, HUI Research.
  3. Miljkovic, Dragan & Nganje, William & de Chastenet, Helene, 2008. "Economic factors affecting the increase in obesity in the United States: Differential response to price," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 48-60, February.
  4. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2005. "Optimal Sin Taxes," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000346, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Senarath Dharmasena & Oral Capps JR, 2012. "Intended and unintended consequences of a proposed national tax on sugar‐sweetened beverages to combat the U.S. obesity problem," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(6), pages 669-694, 06.
  6. Gruber, Jonathan & Koszegi, Botond, 2004. "Tax incidence when individuals are time-inconsistent: the case of cigarette excise taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1959-1987, August.
  7. Dragan Miljkovic & William Nganje, 2008. "Regional obesity determinants in the United States: a model of myopic addictive behavior in food consumption," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 38(3), pages 375-384, 05.
  8. Blundell, Richard & Pashardes, Panos & Weber, Guglielmo, 1993. "What Do We Learn About Consumer Demand Patterns from Micro Data?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 570-97, June.
  9. Smed, Sinne & Jensen, Jorgen D. & Denver, Sigrid, 2007. "Socio-economic characteristics and the effect of taxation as a health policy instrument," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(5-6), pages 624-639.
  10. Olivier Allais & Patrice Bertail & Véronique Nichèle, 2010. "The Effects of a Fat Tax on French Households' Purchases: A Nutritional Approach," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 92(1), pages 228-245.
  11. Fletcher, Jason M. & Frisvold, David E. & Tefft, Nathan, 2010. "The effects of soft drink taxes on child and adolescent consumption and weight outcomes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 967-974, December.
  12. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Arthur Lewbel, 1997. "Quadratic Engel Curves And Consumer Demand," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(4), pages 527-539, November.
  13. Kotakorpi, Kaisa, 2008. "The incidence of sin taxes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 95-99, January.
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