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Income and (Ir) rational food choice

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  • Lusk, Jayson L.

Abstract

Increasing affluence is associated with increases in the variety and diversity of consumers’ diets. While this relationship likely reflects a heightened ability of consumers to satisfy unique preferences, it is also possible that higher income and food expenditure are associated with more preference instability, as the relative cost of a mistake falls with income. This paper shows that the ability to detect preference instability increases with income. In an empirical application involving almost 540,000 food choices by almost 60,000 people, 47% committed at least one preference reversal. The odds a preference reversal are 1.8 (2.5) times higher for individuals who spend at least $160/week on food at home (away from home) compared to individuals who spend less than $20/week. Individuals who commit preference reversals are less likely to rate price and are more likely to rate novelty as important food values.

Suggested Citation

  • Lusk, Jayson L., 2019. "Income and (Ir) rational food choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 630-645.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:166:y:2019:i:c:p:630-645
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.08.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Food choice; Axioms of revealed preference; Preference reversal; Rationality;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General

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