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The Geography of Poverty and Nutrition: Food Deserts and Food Choices across the United States

Author

Listed:
  • Allcott, Hunt

    (New York University)

  • Diamond, Rebecca

    (Stanford University)

  • Dube, Jean-Pierre

    (University of Chicago)

Abstract

We study the causes of "nutritional inequality": why the wealthy tend to eat more healthfully than the poor in the U.S. Using two event study designs exploiting entry of new supermarkets and households' moves to healthier neighborhoods, we reject that neighborhood environments have economically meaningful effects on healthy eating. Using a structural demand model, we find that exposing low-income households to the same food availability and prices experienced by high-income households would reduce nutritional inequality by only 9%, while the remaining 91% is driven by differences in demand. In turn, these income-related demand differences are partially explained by education, nutrition knowledge, and regional preferences. These findings contrast with discussions of nutritional inequality that emphasize supply-side issues such as food deserts.

Suggested Citation

  • Allcott, Hunt & Diamond, Rebecca & Dube, Jean-Pierre, 2018. "The Geography of Poverty and Nutrition: Food Deserts and Food Choices across the United States," Research Papers repec:ecl:stabus:3631, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:repec:ecl:stabus:3631
    as

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    File URL: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/gsb-cmis/gsb-cmis-download-auth/455536
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Richard A. Dunn, 2010. "The Effect of Fast-Food Availability on Obesity: An Analysis by Gender, Race, and Residential Location," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1149-1164.
    2. Bart J. Bronnenberg & Jean-Pierre H. Dube & Matthew Gentzkow, 2012. "The Evolution of Brand Preferences: Evidence from Consumer Migration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2472-2508, October.
    3. repec:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/695476 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Pierre Dubois & Rachel Griffith & Aviv Nevo, 2014. "Do Prices and Attributes Explain International Differences in Food Purchases?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 832-867, March.
    5. David Atkin & Benjamin Faber & Marco Gonzalez-Navarro, 2018. "Retail Globalization and Household Welfare: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(1), pages 1-73.
    6. Janet Currie & Stefano DellaVigna & Enrico Moretti & Vikram Pathania, 2010. "The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity and Weight Gain," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 32-63, August.
    7. Douglas J. Besharov & Marianne Bitler & Steven J. Haider, 2011. "An economic view of food deserts in the united states," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(1), pages 153-176, December.
    8. Charles Courtemanche & Art Carden, 2014. "Competing with Costco and Sam's Club: Warehouse Club Entry and Grocery Prices," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 565-585, January.
    9. John Cawley & Chad Meyerhoefer & Adam Biener & Mette Hammer & Neil Wintfeld, 2015. "Savings in Medical Expenditures Associated with Reductions in Body Mass Index Among US Adults with Obesity, by Diabetes Status," PharmacoEconomics, Springer, vol. 33(7), pages 707-722, July.
    10. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2012.300865_0 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Kaufman, Phillip R. & MacDonald, James M. & Lutz, Steve M. & Smallwood, David M., 1997. "Do the Poor Pay More for Food? Item Selection and Price Differences Affect Low-Income Household Food Costs," Agricultural Economics Reports 34065, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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    Cited by:

    1. Noriko Amano, 2018. "Nutrition Inequality: The Role of Prices, Income, and Preferences," 2018 Meeting Papers 453, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Cody Cook & Rebecca Diamond & Jonathan Hall & John A. List & Paul Oyer, 2018. "The Gender Earnings Gap in the Gig Economy: Evidence from over a Million Rideshare Drivers," NBER Working Papers 24732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
    • R20 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - General

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