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Paternalistic Taxation of Unhealthy Food and the Intensive versus Extensive Margin of Obesity

Author

Listed:
  • Zarko Kalamov
  • Marco Runkel

Abstract

This paper shows that if an individual’s health costs are U-shaped in weight with a minimum at some healthy weight level and if the individual has both self control problems and rational motives for over- or underweight, the optimal paternalistic tax on unhealthy food mitigates the individual’s weight problem (intensive margin), but does not induce the individual to choose healthy weight (extensive margin). Implementing healthy weight requires a further distortion (e.g. subsidy on other goods), which may render the tax on unhealthy food inferior to the option of not taxing the individual at all. In addition, with heterogeneous individuals the optimal uniform paternalistic tax may have the negative side effect of rendering otherwise healthy individuals underweight.

Suggested Citation

  • Zarko Kalamov & Marco Runkel, 2018. "Paternalistic Taxation of Unhealthy Food and the Intensive versus Extensive Margin of Obesity," CESifo Working Paper Series 6911, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6911
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    File URL: https://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp6911.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Charles Courtemanche & Garth Heutel & Patrick McAlvanah, 2015. "Impatience, Incentives and Obesity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(582), pages 1-31, February.
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    4. Levy, Amnon, 2002. "Rational eating: can it lead to overweightness or underweightness?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 887-899, September.
    5. Cremer, Helmuth & Goulão, Catarina & Roeder, Kerstin, 2016. "Earmarking and the political support of fat taxes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 258-267.
    6. Dragone, Davide & Savorelli, Luca, 2012. "Thinness and obesity: A model of food consumption, health concerns, and social pressure," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 243-256.
    7. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
    8. Haavio, Markus & Kotakorpi, Kaisa, 2011. "The political economy of sin taxes," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 575-594, May.
    9. Ikeda, Shinsuke & Kang, Myong-Il & Ohtake, Fumio, 2010. "Hyperbolic discounting, the sign effect, and the body mass index," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 268-284, March.
    10. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Köszegi, 2001. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1261-1303.
    11. repec:oup:cesifo:v:64:y:2018:i:1:p:1-14. is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Helmuth Cremer & Catarina Goulão & Kerstin Roeder, 2015. "Earmarking and the Political Support of Fat Taxes," CESifo Working Paper Series 5516, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Markus Haavio & Kaisa Kotakorpi, 2012. "Sin Licenses Revisited," CESifo Working Paper Series 4010, CESifo Group Munich.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    sin tax; paternalism; obesity; extensive versus intensive margin;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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