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The impact of taxing sugar-sweetened beverages on cola purchasing in Catalonia: an approach to causal inference with time series cross-sectional data


  • Lluc Puig-Codina

    (Universidad de Alicante)

  • Jaime Pinilla

    (University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria)

  • Jaume Puig-Junoy

    (Barcelona School of Management, Pompeu Fabra University (BSM-UPF))


Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes related to the quantity of sugar have appeared as a popular regulatory tool around the world during the last decade showing important variations in their implementation and impact. We evaluated the impact of a new SSB tax implemented in Catalonia since May 1, 2017 on the purchased quantities and penetration rates of taxed and untaxed cola beverages. We use aggregate time series of cola beverages purchases in all 17 Spanish Autonomous Communities before and after the implementation of the SBB tax in Catalonia, from January 2013 to June 2019. A comparison between two different types of causal inference methods was conducted: a two-way fixed effects difference in differences model and a modified synthetic control model. Regular cola purchases decreased 12.1% and their penetration rate decreased by 1.27 points during the two post-intervention years using the preferred model. Diet cola purchases increased 17.0% and their penetration rate also increased by 1.65 points. Only regular cola results were robust to all placebo test checks. The SSB tax implemented in Catalonia in 2017 significantly reduced the volume and penetration rates of regular colas with no robust evidence for the substitution effect on diet colas.

Suggested Citation

  • Lluc Puig-Codina & Jaime Pinilla & Jaume Puig-Junoy, 2021. "The impact of taxing sugar-sweetened beverages on cola purchasing in Catalonia: an approach to causal inference with time series cross-sectional data," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 22(1), pages 155-168, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:eujhec:v:22:y:2021:i:1:d:10.1007_s10198-020-01246-0
    DOI: 10.1007/s10198-020-01246-0

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rita Faria’s journal round-up for 8th February 2021
      by Rita Faria in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2021-02-08 12:00:01

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    More about this item


    Sugar-sweetened beverages; Taxes; Soda tax; Sugar consumption;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes


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