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What U.S. data should be used to measure the price elasticity of demand for alcohol?

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  • Ruhm, Christopher J.
  • Jones, Alison Snow
  • McGeary, Kerry Anne
  • Kerr, William C.
  • Terza, Joseph V.
  • Greenfield, Thomas K.
  • Pandian, Ravi S.

Abstract

This paper examines how estimates of the price elasticity of demand for beer vary with the choice of alcohol price series examined. Our most important finding is that the commonly used ACCRA price data are unlikely to reliably indicate alcohol demand elasticities—estimates obtained from this source vary drastically and unpredictably. As an alternative, researchers often use beer taxes to proxy for alcohol prices. While the estimated beer taxes elasticities are more stable, there are several problems with using taxes, including difficulties in accounting for cross-price effects. We believe that the most useful estimates reported in this paper are obtained using annual Uniform Product Code (UPC) “barcode” scanner data on grocery store alcohol prices. These estimates suggest relatively low demand elasticity, probably around −0.3, with evidence that the elasticities are considerably overstated in models that control for beer but not wine or spirits prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Ruhm, Christopher J. & Jones, Alison Snow & McGeary, Kerry Anne & Kerr, William C. & Terza, Joseph V. & Greenfield, Thomas K. & Pandian, Ravi S., 2012. "What U.S. data should be used to measure the price elasticity of demand for alcohol?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 851-862.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:31:y:2012:i:6:p:851-862
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2012.08.002
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    3. Watson, Philip S. & Winfree, Jason & McCluskey, Jill J. & Mittelhammer, Ron C., 2023. "Differential Impacts of Statewide Covid Policies on Urban vs. Rural Communities: Evidence from Liquor Sales in Idaho," 2023 Annual Meeting, July 23-25, Washington D.C. 335935, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Calcott, Paul, 2019. "Minimum unit prices for alcohol," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 18-26.
    5. Nelson, Jon P., 2014. "Estimating the price elasticity of beer: Meta-analysis of data with heterogeneity, dependence, and publication bias," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 180-187.
    6. Saffer, Henry & Gehrsitz, Markus, 2016. "The effect of post-and-hold laws on alcohol consumption," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 63-71.
    7. Irani-Kermani, Roozbeh & Jaenicke, Edward C., 2018. "Generalizing Variety Seeking Measurement from Brand Space to Product Attribute Space," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 273818, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    8. Adrian R. Fleissig, 2016. "Changing Trends in U.S. Alcohol Demand," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 44(3), pages 263-276, September.
    9. Anurag Sharma & Brian Vandenberg & Bruce Hollingsworth, 2014. "Minimum Pricing of Alcohol versus Volumetric Taxation: Which Policy Will Reduce Heavy Consumption without Adversely Affecting Light and Moderate Consumers?," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 9(1), pages 1-13, January.
    10. Blasco-Arcas, Lorena & Lee, Hsin-Hsuan Meg & Kastanakis, Minas N. & Alcañiz, Mariano & Reyes-Menendez, Ana, 2022. "The role of consumer data in marketing: A research agenda," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 436-452.
    11. Henry Saffer & Markus Gehrsitz & Michael Grossman, 2022. "The Effects of Alcohol Excise Tax Increases by Drinking Level and by Income Level," NBER Working Papers 30097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Anurag Sharma & Fabrice Etilé & Kompal Sinha, 2016. "The Effect of Introducing a Minimum Price on the Distribution of Alcohol Purchase: A Counterfactual Analysis," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(9), pages 1182-1200, September.
    13. Jon Nelson, 2015. "Binge drinking and alcohol prices: a systematic review of age-related results from econometric studies, natural experiments and field studies," Health Economics Review, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 1-13, December.
    14. Gehrsitz, Markus & Saffer, Henry & Grossman, Michael, 2021. "The effect of changes in alcohol tax differentials on alcohol consumption," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 204(C).
    15. John Gibson & Alessandro Romeo, 2017. "Fiscal-Food Policies are Likely Misinformed by Biased Price Elasticities from Household Surveys: Evidence from Melanesia," Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(3), pages 405-416, September.
    16. Vinish Shrestha, 2018. "Do young adults substitute cigarettes for alcohol? Learning from the master settlement agreement," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 297-321, June.
    17. Ajilore, Olugbenga & Amialchuk, Aliaksandr & Egan, Keven, 2016. "Alcohol consumption by youth: Peers, parents, or prices?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 76-83.
    18. Teltser, Keith & Lennon, Conor & Burgdorf, Jacob, 2021. "Do ridesharing services increase alcohol consumption?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    19. Michele Baggio & Alberto Chong & Sungoh Kwon, 2020. "Marijuana and alcohol: Evidence using border analysis and retail sales data," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 53(2), pages 563-591, May.
    20. Anurag Sharma & Brian Vandenberg, 2019. "Heterogenous wealth effects of minimum unit price on purchase of alcohol: Evidence using scanner data," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(12), pages 1-16, December.
    21. Meng, Yang & Brennan, Alan & Purshouse, Robin & Hill-McManus, Daniel & Angus, Colin & Holmes, John & Meier, Petra Sylvia, 2014. "Estimation of own and cross price elasticities of alcohol demand in the UK—A pseudo-panel approach using the Living Costs and Food Survey 2001–2009," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 96-103.
    22. Watson, Philip & Winfree, Jason & Toro-González, Daniel, . "Fiscal Impacts and Cross-Border Effects of a Change in State Liquor Policy," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 51(2).
    23. Vinish Shrestha, 2015. "Estimating the Price Elasticity of Demand for Different Levels of Alcohol Consumption among Young Adults," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 1(2), pages 224-254, Spring.
    24. Erik Nesson, 2017. "Heterogeneity in Smokers' Responses to Tobacco Control Policies," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(2), pages 206-225, February.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Alcohol; Beer drinking; Price elasticities; Scanner data;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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